Takeaways from the success story of Erdoğan
On July 24th Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged as victorious in historic Presidential elections of Turkey. This despite the fact that an “atmosphere of revolt and resentment” had been created against him. This time it was not only certain strands of “liberals” and “seculars” who were openly opposing him but even his parent organization Saadet Party had risen up in arms against him by fielding its own candidate in the elections. What is more interesting is that they joined National Coalition with Kemalists for parliamentary elections. Despite all these intriguing developments, Erdogan emerged victorious.
An important fact is that even though Erdogan or his party had not made this election as the battle between Religion and Liberalism but his opponents were creating an atmosphere wherein it was being propagated that it is a fight between traditionalism and liberalism, a struggle between conservatism and secularism, a war between darkness and light. And now even if it is taken like that and election results are kept in mind, it means Turkey has voted in favour of “Traditionalism, Conservatism and Darkness”. Something which this class is not able to digest properly but they can do nothing now. The verdict is out and it’s clear: Turkey no longer favours what they practised for decades rather they want ‘change’ and they want that change embedded in their religion, culture and traditions. So, it’s time for Erdoğan’s opponents to recognize his political strength. Time and again electoral results have proven this fact that Erdoğan is neither a dictator nor an imposed leader. Like it or not he rules Turkey because people of Turkey want him to rule.
The class which still daydreams about Kemal Ataturk’s Turkey need to understand this simple fact that Turkey of today has travelled far away from Ataturk’s concept of “Secular state” and is inching closer towards a modern “Muslimist State.”
Necemettin Erbakan founded Saadet Party (Felicity Party) is considered as the traditional Islamist Party of Turkey. Erdoğan being close to Erbakan learned initial lessons of politics from this very organization before parting its way from Millî Görüş. Saadet had this time around taken up arms against Erdoğan and were in full opposition to him again. And reasons were same old ones: Erdoğan has deviated from “Ummahtic ideals” and behaves as “proxy and agent” of West. He is more into lip service and less into real actions. All this lip servicing is being done to garner votes otherwise he has nothing to do with Islamist agenda and that his march towards “Islamisation” of Turkey is too slow.
Just a day before presidential election Temel Karamollaoglu, presidential candidate and leader of the Saadet Party, in an interview with Al Jazeera had accused Erdogan of moving Turkey to dictatorship. This accusation is widely circulated even by western media since the 7th constitutional referendum was held earlier in April this year whereby Turkey voted for presidential form of government. With the result the duties of the prime minister are be subsumed under the office of the president, and the prime ministry would be abolished, transforming the parliamentary system into a presidential one.
Interestingly on one side West considers Erdoğan as their opponent and on the other side some Islamists consider him as the proxy and agent of same West.
زاھد تنگ نظر نے مجھے کا فر جا نا
اور کا فر سمجھتا ھیں مسلمان ھوں میں
On the evening of June 24 2018 when results were out Saadet Party as usual failed miserably and gained just over one per cent of votes. Overall the difference between the two parties is mostly strategic rather than ideological.
Now let’s contextualize victory of Erdoğan in context of Sub Continent. All those people who are part of Islamic Movement in Subcontinent or are interested in Islamic Movement in one way or the other are “rejoicing” ever since Erdoğan won. It looks as if he hasn’t won in Turkey but here in Subcontinent. There is no problem in celebrating the victory of someone you consider as your comrade in ideology. But the issue is what have those in subcontinent achieved who consider themselves as comrades of Erdoğan here. I am sorry to say but the fact is that AKP isn’t like Jamaat-e-Islami of sub-continent. Rather it is Saadet Party which resembles Jama’at in its attitude vis-a-vis religion, polity, policies and voter turnout. So in that case, Jama’at of Turkey isn’t AKP Party but Saadet Party. Hence, there is nothing for policymakers of Islamic Movement in the subcontinent to rejoice for. Rather they need to put their heads down and recognize this plain fact that their policies and strategies are failing everywhere. They need to understand that they have to free their politics from cobwebs of ideological chains and restrategize their organization if they wish to gain good political dividends. They need to become more accommodative and tolerant. Local issues should take precedence over everything else. For a party which is eyeing to win 20-30 seats out of more than few hundred seats should talk more about issues of these very 20-30 constituencies rather than putting their entire energies behind issues which have global nature but hardly a very little local impact. So rather than merely celebrating Erdoğan’s victory, they need to carefully analyze his methods and strategies. However, while adopting his methodology they need to keep their local demands and issues in consideration. Remember no political strategy from outside can be adopted in toto until and unless it isn’t made relevant with one’s own time and space considerations.
Erdoğan (or for that matter AK party) has now become a phenomenon in Turkey. This needs to be accepted by everyone whether we like him or hate him. He has brought ideological transformation of Turkey from that of Ataturk’s secular state to a modern Muslimist State. Yes, Erdoğan is no angel. It would also be wrong to consider him as the ultimate revolutionary. But justice demands that you acknowledge his victories and fight against him politically and ideologically. And for his ideological counterparts in the subcontinent: it’s futile to dream about bringing Erdoğan like changes in Subcontinent when your party is no AKP and your leader has very little resemblance with Erdoğan.
First, re-structure your organisation, reform your policies, come out of your cocoons, and then only you can truly celebrate Erdoğan’s victories.
Author is Assistant Professor in History at Govt Women’s College, Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.