July 5, 2018
In November 2003, thousands of Georgian demonstrators took to the streets to protest the flawed results of a parliamentary election. They gave red roses to the soldiers symbolizing their peaceful intentions. And, soldiers who were expected to quell the protests laid down their guns. Thus, it became known as the Rose Revolution. No one was hurt. President Shevardnadze was replaced by Mikhail Saakashvili. Later he led Georgia into a disastrous confrontation with Russia in 2008; left the country 2013 only become a headache for Ukraine’s President Poroshenko. Okumaya devam et
June 26, 2018
Everybody knew this was a landmark election, the last exit on the road to authoritarian rule. With continuing state of emergency, a failing economy, extreme polarization and a chain of foreign and security policy disasters, Government’s only chance to stay in power was Justice and Development Party (JDP) supporters restating their adulation of President Erdogan and it worked. Anyway, through the constitutional referendum of April 16, 2016 they had already replaced Turkey’s parliamentary system with another, at the center of which is very strong leadership. JDP’s election slogan “strong parliament, strong leader” designed to mask its elimination of separation of powers was a glaring contradiction but the party faithful couldn’t care less. Thus, President Erdogan and the JDP won but democracy is indisputably more than the ballot box. Okumaya devam et
June 3, 2018
At the opening session of the Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2018, NATO’s Secretary General Jean Stoltenberg underlined NATO’s past successes and then said:
“… But the paradox is that, throughout our history, people have questioned the transatlantic partnership, from the Suez Crisis to the Iraq War, from America’s Pivot to Asia, to perceived lack of support for Article 5, and unfair burden-sharing. All of this has fueled an impression of weakening transatlantic bond. But the reality is that the bond has proven to be resilient, because both Europe and North America benefit from the bond. What we see now is North Americans coming back to Europe, just as Europeans are stepping up their contributions to our shared security…” (emphasis added)
Since then, however: Okumaya devam et
Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç (*)
May 31, 2018
With the publication of political parties’ election declarations Turkey’s election campaign has gathered steam.
In Turkey, political parties’ election declarations/manifestos are much longer than those of Western parties. For example, UK’s Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017 and Labor Party Manifesto 2017 were 84 and 123 pages respectively. US Democratic and Republican party platforms were even shorter, only 51 and 58 pages.
JDP’s Election Declaration is 360 pages long and those of the Republican People’s Party (RPP) and the Good Party (GP) are 226 and 134 pages respectively. They are so voluminous as to discourage even keen followers from perusing these texts in their entirety. At best, they may serve as speaking notes for campaigning party candidates. Okumaya devam et
May 21, 2018
The EU summit held in Brussels on December 17, 2004 decided that accession negotiations with Turkey would start on October 3, 2005. The process was accordingly launched at the Luxembourg Intergovernmental Conference. This was three years after the Justice and Development Party (JDP) had come to power when “democratic reform” was high on Turkey’s agenda. Our relations with allies were strong. Our relations with Russia were mutually rewarding and steady. Our relations with neighbors were characterized by a determination to open new avenues of cooperation reflecting shared interests.
At midnight on January 1st, 2005 Turkey knocked six zeros off the lira. The BBC reported that the change marked the end of dizzyingly-high denominations as five million lira – enough for a short taxi ride – and the 20m note, worth $15. “The new lira is the symbol of the stable economy that we dreamed of for long years” said Sureyya Serdengecti, then Governor of the Turkish Central Bank. At the time a dollar was worth 1.34 lira.
In early April 2009 President Obama visited Turkey. He addressed the Turkish Parliament and referred to Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy as Ataturk’s greatest legacy. Regional countries were looking at Turkey with envy.
In brief, we were riding a wave of optimism. Okumaya devam et
November 5, 2015
When the voting started last Sunday in Turkey’s parliamentary elections, the electorate had two choices: the prospect of a coalition government plagued with internal disputes or a Justice and Development Party (JDP) government which hopefully had learnt its lesson. None of these had much appeal but there was no third option
Thus, 50% of the voters cast their votes for the second option giving the JDP an enviable parliamentary majority under Turkey’s election law: 317 seats out of 550. As the picture became clear, I thought about newsrooms and editors discussing headlines. For me, no matter how one was to word them, headline options also boiled down to saying either “a stunning victory for the JDP” or “a stunning defeat for the opposition”. For this spot I chose the latter. Okumaya devam et
27 August 2015
The Turkish political scene looks complicated, confusing. Analysts, columnists, pollsters are extremely busy. I believe that the current picture also offers a unique opportunity for analytical brevity.
Turkey held parliamentary elections on June 7, 2015. In the three preceding elections (2002, 2007, 2011) the electorate had given the governing Justice and Development Party (JDP) a parliamentary majority. This time the voters denied them the privilege because they wanted pull in the reins. Their unmistakable message to the JDP was the following:
“You are getting authoritarian and addicted to power. We now want you to share power with another party, preferably with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (RPP). We believe that such a grand coalition can make sure that Turkey remains a parliamentary democracy and upholds national interest rather than ideology in foreign policy.” Okumaya devam et
12 August 2015
The last German federal election was held on Sunday, September 22, 2013. The Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) led by Chancellor Merkel won nearly 42% of the vote and nearly 50% of the seats in the Bundestag (just five short of majority). However, their coalition partner Free Democrats (FDP), failed to meet the 5% vote threshold. Thus, the CDU/CSU and the main opposition party Social Democrats (SPD) started talks for a grand coalition. After five weeks of intense negotiations they reached agreement. Three party leaders signed a 185-page document on policies to be followed by the new government. The SPD then submitted this document to a vote by its members who approved it. On December 17, the Bundestag elected Angela Merkel as Chancellor and the new government was sworn in. In other words, the political process took nearly three months. Okumaya devam et
Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç (*)
15 June 2015
On 7 June Turkey held parliamentary elections. Result: The ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) lost its parliamentary majority of twelve years. This was largely attributed to hubris, excessive government spending on luxury, allegations of corruption, growing income disparities and President Erdogan’s relentless campaign for a custom made presidential system. We dispute none of that. And, we believe that JDP’s disastrous foreign policy has also played a part.
Normally and perhaps universally, foreign policy as a factor that shapes electorate choice comes way down the list. But once foreign policy is identified as impacting negatively on national security and prosperity then its prominence gets vastly upgraded. Foreign policy pundits would examine and try to gauge what role JDP foreign policy failures have played in its significant loss of electorate favor on 7 June elections. We believe that JDP’s foreign policy both for its substance and the way it was executed has engendered lessened security and concomitant waste of national resources. This is so not just in the perception of the public; today Turkey is measurably much less secure owing to JDP’s dismal foreign policy record. We have sketched out below the salient negatives of that policy. Okumaya devam et