Friday, October 30, 2015
The crucial question is not whether this election will produce a single-party majority government or the possibility of coalition rule in line with the previous electoral verdict, but is on the future of democracy in this country and the formation of a political culture that respects the electoral mandate. On both accounts the incumbent government has failed its people. This is probably the first of its kind in the annals of history of democracy where citizens are forced to elect a single-party majority government, failing which, one election after another is thrust upon them until a majority government is elected.
The AKP government has linked these unfortunate developments to the absence of a stable government and is thus seeking a mandate for a decisive majority in exchange for security, reminding people of the bad days of coalition rule in recent history. Similarly the government has decisively moved to the spectrum of majoritarian politics under which the “Kurdish PKK threat” is expected to increase the share of votes in favor of the ruling party to form the majority government. Whether all these political actions and strategies will meet the expectations of the AKP or not eventually depends on the outcome of the election; however, in the process, the emerging democratic modern identity of the nation has been greatly compromised.
Turkey faced with a Hobbesian choice
Today, the people of Turkey are faced with a Hobbesian choice: to elect a government in the name of democracy without any prospect of democracy in their everyday life. In a single-party state system people do not have any option, hence no expectation either. The Turkish case was different when the AKP grew with a successive democratic mandate under a multi-party democratic system, and to a large extent honored the democratic mandate of the people before relapsing into the authoritarian mode of governance. If the AKP wins even by a slim majority, it will legitimize its authoritarian politics and rule this country with more authoritarian vengeance.
If it cannot form a government, it will remain the single-largest party and hence will retain the greater say in the course of running the coalition government. By any account, the prospect of a non-AKP government is bleak, considering the fact that the opposition is too weak to form a government on its own and too inflexible to form a coalition government without the AKP. The hardened, stubborn attitude of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) foiled any prospect of a non-AKP coalition government in the last election simply on the grounds that it cannot have any alliance with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a predominantly Kurdish party. Thus, the prospect of democratic rule in Turkey's near future appears to be slim.
It is indeed strange to observe that while social relations with minority Kurdish people are acceptable to Sunni/secular majoritarian Turks, sharing in the power structure is not acceptable. This is certainly in part on account of the redefined Turkish conception of the republic or, for that matter, any modern nation state constructed on the principle of majoritarianism and homogeneity. Such political formation has the inherent tendency of suspecting the loyalty of its minority citizens -- whether religious or ethnic. Thus, unless Turkey undergoes the de-Turkification/de-statification of its national identity or sheds its culture of majoritarianism, the development of a democratic national identity is not possible. Moreover, a shared conception of the sovereignty of the nation-state often helps in weakening the separatist sentiment prevailing among a section of its population.
Thus, the formation of a democratic national identity demands an inclusive democratic government that goes beyond the principle of a majority government. Such a government can then be called a legitimate government, a government that reflects the aspiration of all sections of people and governs on the principle of national consensus, and not on the principle of majority. A government merely formed on the grounds of majority cannot be a legitimate government if it fails to represent the national aspiration or governs the country in a partisan manner. An example from India is instructive in this regard. Even though current right-wing Hindu outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claimed the majority on its own in the last parliamentary election for the first time in its history, the party preferred to form a coalition government called the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and attempt to evolve a national consensus on major issues of national interest.
Not long ago the AKP was a model of “Muslim democracy,” partly on account of its inclusive politics that helped the party to secure political support from across all segments of social groups including a good section of the Kurdish population. After the AKP switched over from majoritarianism politics and preferred an authoritarian mode of governance as a strategy for regime survival, it began to affect all aspects of national health: the economy, social harmony, the majority-minority relationship, relations with neighboring countries, governance, etc.
It seems that Turkey has entered an era of serious political instability for a long while to come. Only a credible “alternative Muslim political formation” vis-à-vis the AKP or political flexibility on the part of opposition parties to provide a non-AKP coalition government -- the chances of which appear to be very remote -- can stem the tide of de-democratization in the country. However only a vigilant democratic political culture with strong citizen participation in the affairs of governance can be a powerful deterrent for the kind of arbitrary rule that Turkey is currently witnessing.
China’s navy commander warns US provocative acts in South China Sea could spark accidental conflicts
By Shen Chen
China' s navy Commander Wu Shengli warned his U. S. counterpart there could be“ seriously pressing situation between the front line forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even accidental conflits" if the United States continues with its provocative acts in the South China Sea at a video teleconference on Thursday night. The teleconference between the Chinese Admiral and U. S. navy’ s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson was called after the U. S. destroyer USS Lassen entered waters near Zhubi Reef, part of China' s Nansha Islands, without the permission of the Chinese government on Tuesday. “ Such dangerous and provocative acts have threatened China' s sovereignty and security and harmed regional peace and stability," Admiral Wu said. He warned that China will " have to take all necessary measures to safeguard sovereignty and security" if the United States persists going its own way and ignoring China' s concern. "( I) hope the U. S. side cherishes the good situation between the Chinese and U. S. navies that has not come easily and avoids these kinds of incidents from happening again," Wu added at the teleconference. The naval chiefs agreed to maintain dialogue and follow protocols to avoid clashes at the teleconference. The scheduled port visits by U. S. and Chinese ships and planned visits to China by senior U. S. navy officers will also remained on track, Reuters reported earlier today. Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday said in a statement that the ruling rendered on Thursday by the Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Philippines on jurisdiction and admissibility of the South China Sea arbitration is null and void, and has no binding effect on China. Adm. John Richardson, the US Navy’ s Chief of Naval Operations ( CNO), and China' s navy commander Adm. Wu Shengli are about to speak on Oct. 29 via video teleconference to discuss the situation in the South China Sea and Sino-U. S. navy relations. Calling the USS Lassen' s intrusion a " regular occurrence," the US military put a gloss on its recent brazen provocation against China in the South China Sea, implying that more warships might be sent within the 12 nautical mile-limit around China-controlled islands. China will have to escalate its countermeasures if Washington does so, and the situation will worsen for the US. The U. S. move was long planned. U. S. media said in May that the U. S. navy wanted to“ challenge” China’ s construction projects in the South China Sea, and since September the U. S. navy has been laboring its views on South China Sea disputes and claiming to send a warship within 12 nautical miles of China' s islands. The U. S. has long caused trouble in South China Sea disputes even though it is not one of the parties concerned to the South China Sea issue.