By Ekrem Dumanlı, Today's Zaman
"Failure has no friends" they say. This holds true especially with politics. Kicking the one who is already down has become a tradition. But when one hits rock bottom, one can find a way out through self-criticism. If one fails to analyze him or herself, that person might be doomed to stay down for the count.
That's why Turkey's democratic history looks like a graveyard of major parties. Take a look, for example, at what the party of the late Adnan Menderes has turned into. What is left of the Motherland Party, the most revolutionary party of our political history? Özal's remarkable party has lost its glory and melted away. All these parties would have had the opportunity to reorganize and refocus had they put themselves through a self-critique when called for.
Two important self-criticisms were published in the news yesterday. Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Zeki Sezer reached a very correct conclusion when he said the left was suffering from having brushed off a laicism that is respectful toward religious values. Certainly, the left's poor showings in the July 22 elections were not caused by just one factor. Many mistakes were made.
For example, the uncompromising image the left depicted during the campaigns prompted public fury. The public disapproved of the left's work, which was all based on the regime crisis, and opposed its manufacturing of fake problems to use in its election propaganda. The Republican People's Party (CHP) administration will most certainly ask itself where it went wrong and evaluate each mistake one by one. However, it must not delay discussion of its most fundamental mistakes during the elections process.
The fact that Zeki Sezer has pointed to is important in this regard. The left in Turkey is on bad terms with just about the entire public. It was unable to win any votes from citizens of Kurdish origin. In most of the eastern and the southeastern provinces, the CHP could not even organize rallies. It has never carried out any social projects to resolve the problems of the citizens in this region.
The gap between Alevis and the left is widening daily. Some Alevi foundations promised a few days before the elections to support the CHP, but this did not translate into any increase in CHP votes. I am not saying the left should put on an act to win Kurdish and Alevi votes. What I am saying is that that part of the left that claims to be social democrats must be mindful of people's problem and work to find solutions to them.
Leftist parties have similar problems with conservative people. They've introduced laicism as such a radical term that most citizens perceive the left to be against religion. The late Bülent Ecevit had tried very hard to remove this misconception by promoting a laicism that respects religion. This slogan had increased support for the left, and sympathy grew further when Deniz Baykal hung Sheikh Edebali's (spiritual guide of Osman Gazi, founder of the Ottoman Empire) sayings of wisdom on his office wall and we saw him praying at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
But this all changed overnight when strict laicist words took over the party's slogan. The CHP paid the price for it on July 22. Certainly, religion should not interfere in politics, but there should be peace between politics, religion and religious people. The CHP once again made the same mistake. Can this problem be fixed? Indeed there is always a way to compensate for mistakes, that's why Zeki Sezer's statement is so important.
Democrat Party leader Mehmet Ağar, who resigned as his party's boss hours into the election, spoke to the Hürriyet newspaper. While listing to the reasons for their failure, Ağar first said: "We made a grave mistake by not entering the parliamentary session during the presidential election. Citizens did not accept this stance. We were unable to compensate for this mistake in our election campaign. The result is this."
Ağar is right. The DP's principal mistake was to not attend Parliament because the DP tradition never supported anti-democratic interruptions or alliances with the CHP. Although just about every poll before the presidential elections showed that the DP would pass the election threshold, the leader paid a high price for drawing a road map that was not commensurate with the interests of his constituents. Now Ağar is making valid self-critiques.
The criticisms for Ağar and Sezer are actually the same. You cannot take the people for granted and win in this country. You cannot achieve political victory without public approval. Victory will come when you step out of your ivory tower and let the elite center embrace the public and listen to their concerns and needs.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Temmuz 2007, 12:15