The West might think such a coalition would better reflect conservatives and secularists in Turkey and serve for a more stable country, at least for a while. And it might think opposition from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) would set a further balance, at least for a while. The West even seemed to be ready to put pressure on the CHP to turn a blind eye to the internal corruption allegations against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his close circle. Erdoğan put forward the same condition to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Erdem Gül of the Cumhuriyet daily claimed that Erdoğan had sent a message during the coalition talks and asked indirectly for “immunity for himself and his family” with reference to the corruption allegations as a precondition for the formation of a coalition government. Gül claims this message was disclosed by Kılıçdaroğlu during part of a meeting that was closed to the press. However, now without the need for a partner, the AKP, which Erdoğan co-founded, will be able to form a majority government.
If the West wants to see Turkey as its long-term, reliable, predictable and stable ally, it should support democracy and human rights in Turkey in order to maintain a reliable and predictable alliance. Rising authoritarianism that is, at least at a rhetorical level, Islamist would require a new elite of “Islamist authoritarianism” to put a distance between it and the West, which is seen as the “other.” Thus, as evidence of this, for example, support for the EU membership process has been falling dramatically while authoritarianism and Islamist rhetoric are on the rise in Turkey.
What we have been observing in the last month is the compromise of the West towards the Turkish government and President Erdoğan, who has been driving Turkey towards an authoritarian regime that is committed to cracking down on all kinds of critical voices and groups.
This seems to have turned into an obsession for Erdoğan, even if that requires the use of all sorts of violations of the rule of law. He wants to see absolute obedience from all segments of society. Another example is his role in the AKP’s election campaign. As president of Turkey, Erdoğan needs to be neutral to all parties. As president, he is supposed to be impartial and not support any particular political party during election campaigns or at any other time. However, he wanted the AKP to win the majority of seats and form a majority government so he can extend his power.
And now the West seems to be rewarding President Erdoğan despite this act that contradicts the very essence of human rights and the rule of law, the foundation of the European Union project. He seems to be “rewarded” because he has proven to the West that he is strong enough to stay in power and consolidate power in his hands and secure popular support.
Actually, from a pragmatic perspective, that is understandable. Turkey is a key and indispensable ally for the West in terms of dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis, the resultant human influx across EU borders and dealing with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Millions of Syrians are pouring across Turkey’s borders with the aim of reaching European countries as their ultimate destination. Also, in the long term, the EU needs Turkey in reaching out alternative energy suppliers in the Middle East which provide an alternative to Russian energy.
Not only does the West need Turkey, but Turkey needs the West as well. If Turkey wants to benefit from its geographical location politically and economically, it needs to speed up the process of political and economic integration with Europe. Not only material interest, actually, but the consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Turkey seem to be only possible only with the EU membership process .
However, it is necessary to realize that the West needs a democratic Turkey to be an ally and to stabilize the region, as was experienced, albeit for a short time, in the AKP government’s second term. Turkey was the key ally and mediator, which could talk to any side of any conflict in the Middle East; it was even the main mediator between Syria and Israel.
Even if the result of the Nov. 1 election were no different, the West would want to see a relatively more stable Turkey. Thus, the West would have supported and applied pressure on a coalition between the CHP and the AKP, and is ready to turn a blind eye to any corruption allegations in which the president and members of previous governments are complicit.
The West needs a stable Turkey to re-order the region, as Turkey is home to an influx and thus gateway of millions of refugees that are pushing at Western borders and an important route and source of alternative energy sources in the Middle East. However, as I noted above an authoritarian and “Islamist” Turkey would never be a stable and reliable ally for the West.