Society, Politics, and Economy in Modern Turkey: Sociology of Turkey - Maintained by Tugrul Keskin
We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies. (p. 5)
― Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

‘Not a Crime nor a Sin’: Organised Political Activism as the Way Forward in Turkey

By Volkan Yılmaz


Gezi Park, located in one of the busiest city centres of Istanbul, has become home to hundreds of thousands of protestors for almost two weeks. Resilience of protestors in Gezi Park coupled with increasing police violence against protestors and the Prime Minister Erdoğan’s humiliation of the protestors sparked an unprecedented series of protests both in other parts of Istanbul and in more than 70 provinces of Turkey. The scope and continuity of protests and the number of people involved in these protests have been never before seen in the history of Turkey.

Steady economic growth throughout the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) period did not go hand in hand with the enhancement of citizens’ quality of life and the realisation of basic human rights including right to fair trial and freedom of expression especially after the second victory of the AKP in general elections.

In the aftermath of the AKP’s third victory in general election of 2011, Prime Minister Erdoğan’s mandate over the party and the AKP’s mandate over the political system of Turkey have been consolidated. More importantly, in Gramsci’s term, it becomes much clearer that the ‘historic bloc’ of conservative neoliberals has been strongly established.

In this context, the AKP initiated the preparations for the first civilian constitution of Turkey with the promise of opening up the constitution writing process to all other political parties in the Parliament and civil society institutions. However, this promise has been largely unfulfilled. Conservative neoliberal historic bloc did not allow different sections of the opposition to influence the process in any way. In contrast, the AKP tried to impose changing the country’s political system from a parliamentary system to a presidential one as its initial condition upon all other parties in the Parliament.

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