Jun 12 2018

Will Turkey find stability or redefine the enemy after the elections? – NYT

Turkey has since its founding in 1923, splintered along religious, ideological and ethnic lines delineated by deeply felt hatreds and it is not clear whether after the June 24 elections stability will arrive or the new political environment will simply redefine the enemy as it does from time to time, social anthropologist Jenny White said.

White, in an article for the New York Times, said that because Turkey’s institutions had always primarily protected the interests of the state and not the citizenry, people seek protection and provision of their every day needs through their families and communities, or an association, be it a religious brotherhood, political party or other group that welcomes them.

Turkey has been unable to develop a unifying national identity that represents all of its citizens, she said. This coupled with multiple coups and the fear of the state has led to antagonistic factionalism in the country.

Since the July 2016, coup attempt, more than 100,000 people have been detained, arrested or dismissed from their jobs, the article said.

The term “FETOist” - a follower of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based preacher accused of masterminding the coup - has become a blanket accusation in the media, courts and public discourse, sometimes implausibly applied to known atheists, leftists and other dissenters.

‘’Anyone can be accused of treason,’’ White said.

The June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections have become a battle between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a united opposition, comprised of secular, Islamist, nationalist and Kurdish parties.

‘’The electoral season has seen Turkish political parties and their followers cross a Rubicon. Traditional parties have put aside their differences to unite against a common enemy, following in a path already forged by Turkey’s youth,’’ White said.

Now the countdown begins to see if this spirit of unity can be carried forward or if it will be crushed, creating an even more fragmented nation.