Presidential dictatorship in the making

President and soon-to-be-dictator: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is almost supreme ruler of Turkey. Back in 2015, he restarted the war with the Kurds and intervened in the Syrian civil war, to fuel nationalism and to crush his internal opponents. Now the final move is made, Turkey is to become a presidential ”democracy” in contrast to the current parliamentary system introduced in 1923. Erdoğan wants to finish his quest and rule unopposed in a dictatorial presidential system. A public referendum is to legitimatize the new system hailed by conservatives and nationalists as ”democratic”!

Turkey is only a democracy in name. Since the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan freedom of speech is more and more limited. With nationalist propaganda against the supposed ”enemies of the Turkish people” the conservative leader is poisoning the minds of many. A big problem is the loyalty of many poor Turks. People from rural Turkey have been the biggest supporters of the soon-to-be-dictator since 2002. They gave Erdoğan his victories in the parliamentary and presidential elections. While rural Turks love him for his conservatism, urban Turks in the cities hate Erdoğan. This is understandable since urban workers are more progressive and reject the growing dictatorial government!

The situation is dangerous as criticism of the president is now more and more impossible. Independent newspapers have been shutdown, left-wing politicians arrested and critics face intimidation by nationalist hooligans. The resuming war with the Kurds has given Erdoğan an excuse to arrest the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). This party is supportive of Kurdish minority rights, which is translated by Erdoğan as ”pro-PKK”. Anybody who is not supportive of Turkish nationalism is called ”a supporter of PKK terrorism” by conservatives and far-right nationalists. With the arrest of HDP leaders Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, the Turkish state has proven that they are not democratic minded. The prosecution claims that the HDP is a front organisation of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is standard procedure when arresting left-wing (anti-nationalist) critics!

In the past, many leftist parties were banned because they supported either Kurdish separatism or Kurdish minority rights. In nationalist Turkey, you are not allowed to call for an independent Kurdistan. Between 2009 and 2015, it seemed that Erdoğan tried to make peace with the PKK. But because of the Syrian civil war and the rise of the PYD in northern Syria, the alarm-bells went off in Ankara. Erdoğan does not like it that Kurdish Syria is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) a party that is allied to the PKK and its founder. This is why he resumed the brutal crackdown of Kurdish activists. He knew that the PKK would strike back and this they did. Now the soon-to-be-dictator is fueling ethnic nationalism to rally the Turks against the Kurds. Nationalism has always been a problem as many Turks are raised to be deeply nationalistic!

NATO however does not care about the rise of a conservative dictatorship in Turkey. They keep selling guns and weapons to Ankara. This shows that the whole North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a front for American capitalism, with no regard for human rights. NATO weapons allowed the Turks to destroy thousands of Kurdish villages in the 1980’s and 1990’s. European leaders maybe critical of Erdoğan, but their capitalist interests outweighs human rights. Also the Turks are needed against the Islamic State, a terrorist group that grew out of the disaster called: Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also the European Union is afraid that Turkey opens its borders and allows Syrian refugees freely to move into Europe. The refugee crisis is a major problem, yet the EU closes its eyes to people fleeing terror and oppression western imperialism created. Syrians who flee IS terrorism should be welcomed, instead they face racism and rejection by right-wing governments!

Erdoğan is playing on nationalism and the fear of terrorism. These he mixes in a deathly cocktail that is fed to his supporters, who’s backwardness is easy exploited. In rural Turkey, ideas such as democracy, woman rights and freedom of speech are only words used by a secular elite. Many poor Turks have always felt oppressed by those richer and wealthier secularists. They never liked the strict laws on church and state separation. Traditionalism and a conservative mentality are still very dominate outside the major cities. Since 2002, political Islam is making a comeback as the conservative party of Erdoğan is supportive of many Islamic values. The Republicans in America are very similar to the Turkish conservatives. Like the party of Erdoğan, the Republican Party is trying to impose Christian believes on the American people, which is deeply unconstitutional!

Now the big boss of Ankara has picked a fight with the Netherlands. A small country on the western borders of Germany. With over 400.000 Turkish people living in the Netherlands, Erdoğan knows that many of them are politically conservative. Dutch Turks originate as migrant workers in the 1960’s/1970’s. They worked in Dutch factories and were allowed to stay. The owners of the factories searched for workers in rural Turkey and attracted men who were politically and culturally conservative in thinking. This is why after 50 years, many of these rural migrant workers still support Erdoğan. The Dutch government however was not happy that the Turkish government was trying to win over Dutch Turks to vote in favor of the big boss!

The Netherlands has its own election for parliament on 15 March, so the government of Mark Rutte did not liked the idea that Turkish officials were campaigning for a YES vote. A vote which would result in institutionalizing the Erdoğan regime. Turkish minister for foreign affairs: Mevlüt Cavusoglu, wanted to speak in Rotterdam. But the city council rejected his coming. When Cavusoglu said he would arrive no matter what the Dutch think, the mayor banned him from entering the city. Furious at this refusal, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Netherlands a nation of ”Nazi remnants”. A typical reaction as Erdoğan also called Germany a ”Nazi state”. It proofs how bombastic and arrogant this mafia dictator is!

Revolutionary socialists call on Turkish voters to reject the president and call for the clear NO. This is difficult as the referendum is held in a deeply undemocratic environment. Critics of Erdoğan has been silenced and those who speak out, risk arrest by the police. With the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) more or less paralyzed by the imprisonment of its leaders, the presidential dictatorship is almost complete. Socialist Alternative in Turkey is calling fora clear NO, as does Revolutionary Socialist Media. The failure of the Republican People’s Party to oppose the conservatives, also shows the bankruptcy of Kemalism, the nationalist ideology of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Turkish workers need to rally with Kurdish workers and others in a workers party on a socialist program!

The People’s Democratic Party has the potential of becoming such a party. But for this to become reality, the HDP needs a program that fully brakes with the Turkish capitalist state. Since it is not allowed to reject nor criticize the bourgeois republic of Mustafa Kemal, the HDP cannot expect that the conservatives nor the nationalists (from both the far-right and the kemalists) will ever tolerate them. Even Mustafa Kemal never accepted opposition to his Republican People’s Party. Like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the founding father of modern day Turkey was a dictator, who oppressed anybody who did not shared his believes!

Türk işçiler, başkanlık diktatörlüğüne hayır deyin!