Will Turkey’s main opposition party, the CHP, change too? - YASIN AKTAY

Will Turkey’s main opposition party, the CHP, change too?

We had said that the results of the last election indicated a change requiring us to review everything we know about the political field.

Generations are changing, people are changing, values, discourses, sensitivities, hostilities are changing. As a matter of fact, perhaps all these changes resemble an aspect concerning a never changing nature of politics that we are often far from comprehending: the political field is the field of change. When we think this field is fixed with the roles we liken to the actors in this field, and determine our entire plan and politics accordingly, we miss out on the politics itself. Politics is not a metaphysical field, it is a field that constantly changes.

Hence, let us first and quickly answer the question in the heading: the CHP too will change.

Whether this change is good or bad for itself or everybody is a completely different topic. We have already witnessed in the last elections how all the elements belonging to our metaphysical political perception changed. All the parties we presumed would never come together held surprising meetings and formed brand new blends.

The Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), which claims to represent the Kurdish voters, as a matter of fact, whose reason for existence is these oppressions, garnered votes for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Is that all?

Conservative women wearing the headscarf even voted for the candidate of the CHP, the party whose headscarf oppression and coefficient racism they encountered not seven decades ago but only a decade ago.

While all this was happening on that front, did the situation develop differently in the People’s Alliance? Was the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) alliance something that could be considered before July 15, 2016?

There is actually talk that CHP mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu does not adequately represent the CHP. It is true; he truly does not fit the CHP profile we know, and largely owes the votes he gained to having drifted away from the CHP attitude. Yet, these are the sort of things that change political parties. Who can say that the CHP led by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu today and the CHP back in former CHP leader Deniz Baykal’s time are one and the same?

It should be accepted that the CHP has long been striving to come to power, striving to better understand the people compared to the past, and trying to get close to the public. Even Kılıçdaroğlu, who used to try and advertise instead of conducting polls, is now conducting polls and trying to adjust his politics and discourse in accordance with those polls.

Frankly, in this state, the CHP is going beyond itself. Presenting a candidate such as İmamoğlu for Istanbul, who goes to Friday prayers, who reads the Quran at condolences, who is familiar with the conservative culture, shows that it has taken the risk of a conflict among itself for this change. Hence, this inevitable fight breaks out within the party, however, it will not be possible for the CHP to change in the true sense without experiencing this fight and managing well the upcoming struggle.

The CHP choosing to learn to keep on the good side of the people to come to power, rather than trying to bring people to line, is, in any way, not a bad thing. In a sense, it is none other than the AK Party that has forced the CHP to this change, that has dragged it to this course. All the pursuits the CHP is in today indicate the model and paths the AK Party has been following for years.

Thus, the AK Party’s most ironic contribution to Turkish politics is through changing its own opposition. Ironic but true. The AK Party has finally changed the CHP, even if this was not in its own favor.

What the CHP is trying to achieve with İmamoğlu in Istanbul, whether through the nature of the profile itself or through careful work, is the politics the AK Party has been following since its founding. The move by the CHP in the last election, and the neglect and violations displayed by the AK Party, provided an ample maneuvering area for the CHP’s success.

The CHP’s change developing into a more national approach is inevitable. It seeing that the administration of Istanbul is not possible through an understanding that considers 1453 (the conquering of Istanbul) as the start of oppression will be inevitable.

The CHP is certainly changing. We will see all together the direction this change will take. Who will win the fight among themselves? How far will the never changing Islamophobes who are against the headscarf, racists, xenophobes, elitist resist this will of change?

It is certain that we will see quite a few things from them that resemble the classic CHP discourse against this course of change within the CHP. Just as what CHP Deputy Barış Yarkadaş said with respect to judges wearing the headscarf. There are also many who will jump from this to the conclusion that “there is nothing changing in the CHP.”

Yet what needs to be done is to feel that parties are in a positive competition against one another in efforts that will be in the country’s favor, as a single nation, under a single flag, and as a matter of fact, in the plan of universal values.

As AK Party has found a power to change even the CHP, it needs to know that it is not exempt of change either.

While even judgements change with the course of time, the change or update of politics, cadres and discourses as time passes is inevitable.


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