Sat Apr 13, 2024
April 13, 2024

The Palace Won the Election, But We Still Own the Streets

Esat Erdogan-31.05.2023

The Palace won the second round of the presidential election. We say the Palace because the opposition fought on unequal terms against the AKP (Justice and Development Party) and MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) bloc, which is intertwined with the state and has all of the state’s means at its disposal. In other words, the state-backed right-wing bloc won the election between the state and the opposition. We can already say that the next elections will be between the various opposition parties and the state (or the Palace, which is the embodiment of the state).

It would not be wrong to describe the new government as the third Nationalist Front (MC). We should add that it is as dangerous a bloc as the NF governments of 1975-77. Moreover, this bloc includes the Hezbollah-affiliated Hüda-Par. Turkey’s Hezbollah (Kurdish Hezbollah), with its shady and bloody past, is sure to be a useful “element” for the regime. In addition, groups with a shady past who participated in the FSA (Free Syria Army) in Syria are also part of this reactionary alliance. This bloc is an alliance of political Islamist and far-right gangs, various deep cells within the state, the construction oligarchy, arms dealers, energy bosses who plunder the environment, the mafia, and misogynistic men. Unlike the old NF governments, today there is no organized working class and no militant socialist movement. Today we have a working class that has shifted politically to the right, a working class that has lost its leadership, a socialist movement with diminished credibility, and hopeless petty-bourgeois masses.

Aggressive Campaign, Weak Bourgeois Opposition

Erdogan used aggressive language throughout the election. He continuously drove his TOGG (new Turkish car model) and Albayrak (an unmanned aerial vehicle that Turkey is selling to Ukraine and Africa) onto the opposition. The opposition wasted its time with artificial debates over the candidate’s name. Moreover, the right-wing partners of the alliance did not give Kılıcdaroglu enough support. The masses’ desire for change was mostly expressed by Kurds and socialists. The opposition was sometimes subject to real attacks and threats. Despite the masses’ desire and enthusiasm for change, it was not able to take the initiative. Finally, it tried to convince the nationalists, but this was not enough to turn the tide. The bourgeois opposition has never been able to stand up to the Palace. Instead, it did everything it could for its bosses to stop the popular mobilizations. It wanted to silence the masses, but it was also caught under the crumbling wall. That’s why the bourgeois opposition took the easy way out and tried to win nationalist votes by attacking powerless migrants. Threatening migrants was easier than threatening the regime.

For the masses who believed they could stop Erdogan, the opposition’s incompetence created great despair and sometimes anger against the poor who voted for the AKP. Another sector of the opposition ignored reality and turned to conspiracy theories. However, it was very difficult for a passive bourgeois opposition that could not reach the working class and, moreover, channel the energy of the masses to defeat Erdogan.

Erdogan cannot solve the bourgeoisie’s leadership crisis

Yes, they won the elections by consolidating their own votes, but the government that will be formed will come to power in an environment marked by myriad crises. Erdogan is not in a position to solve the leadership problem of the bourgeoisie. As the election results show, nearly half of the people hate Erdogan and the repressive palace regime he leads. Among the other half, there is a significant confused segment who voted for Erdogan out of despair. In addition to this fragmented society, Erdogan does not have the instruments to correct the deepening economic contraction and stop rising poverty. The current currency crisis alone is enough to slow down production and consumption. Banks are cutting back on lending and selling foreign currency in a controlled manner. Inflation is constantly rising. Increasing impoverishment could be accompanied by mass layoffs.  In addition, relations with Russia will become more strained the longer the war drags on. Moreover, US imperialism and the EU also view Erdogan with suspicion. That is why Erdogan wants to put Mehmet Simsek, the representative of the IMF and Western imperialism, in charge of the economy. He wants to tell both the Turkish bourgeoisie and the imperialist powers that he will solve the country’s problems.  But Erdogan’s coalition is also under siege by nationalist and political Islamist forces. He is not in a position to maneuver so easily. From Syria to Iraq, from Afghanistan to Libya and Somalia, from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan, he is playing with fire.

However, being weak does not mean that Erdogan is not dangerous. As we saw in the elections, the Palace will continue its lawless attacks. In the new period, the usual suspects such as socialists and Kurds will be joined by spokespersons of the labor movement and even prominent figures of the bourgeois opposition. The photo below of three labor leaders in handcuffs is the future that they want to design for us. This is how the leaders of the Independent Mineworkers’ Union were handcuffed because they exercised their rights. Again, the young people whose houses were raided in the Gever district of Van on the morning of the elections and the violence they were subjected to is a taste of what’s to come in this new period. The photos of a mother carrying her son’s bloodied pillow after he was tortured are now commonplace. The repression and detentions of opposition Twitter accounts and journalists continue unabated. The Turkish Workers Party (TWP) MP Can Atalay was not allowed to leave prison and receive his parliamentary mandate. On top of that, opposition candidate Kılıcdaroglu and a number of his executives have already been threatened with arrest.

“Most Nationalists” Win the “Nationalism” Contest

As we stated in our previous article, the votes for Turkish nationalism have increased, even if they are distributed among different parties. Within the AKP and CHP, there are also votes for the nationalist segment. The votes for Turkish nationalism, which are usually around 20 percent, have reached 30 percent due to the wrong policies of the opposition. This development shows that despite the relative decline of political Islamism, fascist tendencies can gain a dominant role within the reaction in Turkey. Nationalism and political Islamism are gaining ground among the working class. The economic crisis may shift the working class politically further to the right in a society where socialists are disorganized. We recognize this as a dangerous but not new trend.

The strategy of the bourgeois opposition to move to the right has failed. The election results will lead to a split in the ranks of the opposition. The debates within the CHP (People’s Republican Party) and the presidential race have resumed. The turn to the far-right is receiving a serious reaction from within the party.  The cauldron is also boiling in the second largest nationalist party of the bourgeois opposition, the IYIP (IYI Party). The right-wing of the bourgeois opposition may seek its “fortune” somewhere in the ranks of the regime or in some other alliances after winning 34 parliamentary seats. It is also possible that the AKP (Erdogan’s Party) will return to the existing municipalities in the upcoming municipal elections. By saying “yes” to the trustees, Kılıcdaroglu has made the municipalities he governs open to attacks.

The crisis has also hit the HDP. The decline in votes for the party, the failure of the alliance with the Turkish socialists and a series of debates within the Kurdish political movement have been reignited. The HDP is no longer unique in the region. Hüda-Par has been protected by the state as a rival. CHP is also more active in the region. It is possible that Turkish Workers Party will also try to enter the region, although not today.

The Working Class is the Key

Our aim in all the above analyses is of course not to spread despair. On the contrary, we want to read the situation correctly and point to the possibilities for a breakthrough. If Erdogan had been defeated, in these world conditions and in such an economic contraction, a difficult struggle would still await us. It is necessary to forget the liberal interpretations and the petty-bourgeois point of view that considers only their own comfort when they say “the bourgeoisie will not allow it”.

While a real threat surrounds our factories, workplaces, and poor neighborhoods, we know that the only way out is through the alliance of the working class and poor people with all oppressed sectors. Let them have the parliament, the palace, and the ballot box, the streets and factories are ours! Let’s leave pessimism aside and return to the streets where we need to be to win the working class again. Because the only key to this crisis is the working class.

Let’s end with the words from our previous article: In order to get out of this dark spiral, let’s leave the elections aside and build parties and organizations that turn towards the working class, women, and youth, and let’s unite existing struggles. Let us bring workers and their struggles together with socialism, which is the only salvation.

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