German Journalist Brauns: İnce saw fit to surrender
Süheyla Kaplan Artı Gerçek 27 June 2018
Brauns, assessing post-election developments for Artı Gerçek, said, “İnce revealed his true face on election night and showed that he was not prepared to struggle for victory until the end.”
ARTI GERÇEK- German journalist and historian Dr. Nick Brauns, stating that the CHP’s presidential candidate Muharrem İnce saw fit to surrender to President Tayyip Erdoğan, said, “Muharrem İnce revealed his true face on election night and showed that he was just a braggart and was not prepared to struggle for victory until the end.”
Brauns, who assessed post-election developments in Turkey for Artı Gerçek, is an investigative journalist who has close familiarity with Turkey and the Middle East.
Born in Munich in 1971, Brauns studied history at the Ludwig-Maximilian University and completed his doctoral education at the same university. He has worked for ten years as a consultant in Federal Assembly Left Party Deputy Ulla Jelpke’s office in Berlin.
At the same time, Brauns writes articles on Turkish and Middle-Eastern affairs in the daily Junge Welt newspaper. Brauns, who also takes a close interest in the Kurdish political movement, has a published book and many articles. A book on left movements in Turkey by Brauns, who is also closely familiar with Syria and Iraq, is being readied for publication.
The following are Dr. Nick Brauns’ replies to our questions:
President Erdoğan has won the presidential election in the first round. The AKP and MHP have the absolute majority in parliament. Did you expect such a result?
The person who believes that fascism can be eliminated through elections has not learnt any lesson from history. There is an old anarchist saying: “If elections were really able to change anything they would be forbidden.” This saying also applies to the dictatorial system in Turkey. Erdoğan and the AKP are able to use all the state’s power for their own electoral campaigns, to manage elections and also for electoral manipulation. Especially in the regions where Kurds live, there is news of electoral manipulation, threats and physical attacks made by AKP supporters against opposition election observers and burnt ballot slips. Numerous irregularities emerged. Apart from direct electoral fraud, the AKP’s monopolisation of the media, its control of virtually all TV stations and the latter’s failure in particular to give any coverage to the HDP had a determining effect on the elections.
Many AKP voters know no other reality apart from that consisting of propaganda in the form of a religious and nationalistic mixture and fake news and which is served up on every station for 24 hours. Let us not forget that many young first-time voters were educated in the AKP school system and have seen nothing apart from the Erdoğan government. Looking at the election results, we see, as in the referendum, virtually two equal groups: Those who want Erdoğan and those who do not. Here, the opposition group is also internally divided. Votes appear only to have swung within these blocks. Dissatisfied AKP voters voted for the MHP, as did such CHP voters for the HDP or Good Party. Thanks to the government’s media monopoly, the opposition had next to no chance of reaching out to supporters of the government block made up of the AKP and MHP in its election campaign.
There appeared to exist a great deal of hope during the election campaign. The opposition had huge rallies.
Both the CHP and HDP succeeded in mobilising their own supporters and called them out into the streets in droves in the election campaign. Muharrem İnce’s rallies in Izmir and Istanbul attended by millions were undoubtedly the opposition’s biggest election campaigns in recent years. The HDP also staged the largest rally in its own history. There was truly an atmosphere of change in Turkey. The opposition was visible on the Justice March held last year and this year’s 8 March World Women’s Day protests, Newroz celebrations and 1 May workers’ protests.
The most important consequence of this was the sudden disappearance of the fear that had virtually paralysed many opposition supporters. I am afraid that, due to the election result and the disgraceful stance Muharrem İnce displayed, many opposition supporters will become discouraged and incapable of seeing any perspective. This applies in particular to the west of Turkey. The Kurds have sufficient experience not to become discouraged thanks to their resistance struggle of decades in duration. The Kurds are also better organised than those in the opposition in the west of Turkey.
As such, how do you assess the result attained by the HDP?
The HDP can take pride in its electoral success. The HDP once more demonstrated that it had the strength to surmount the ten per cent threshold despite thousands in the HDP ranks being in detention and the intense pressure. The HDP was the strongest party in many Kurdish provinces. This is a clear signal that, despite the war and state terrorism, the Kurdish population still wishes to defend its own identity but wants a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem within the borders of Turkey. The inhabitants of such HDP strongholds as Diyarbakır-Sur, Cizre, Nusaybin, Şırnak, etc. that have been turned into ruins by the army in recent years said in an effective manner, “We are still here. You can demolish our houses and cities but not our morale.”
What is the significance of the HDP reaching out to many voters in the west of Turkey this time?
What effectively led to it crossing the threshold was the HDP scoring success in managing to address social democratic and liberal voters in the west of Turkey who normally vote CHP. This is an important signal. Had these voters believed the HDP to be a “terrorist” party, they would not have voted for the HDP. It is positive for a portion of the urban people in a secular life setting who until recently were very distant from the Kurds or the Kurdish movement to draw close to the HDP.
Since parliament has become less powerful and important under a presidential system in which the AKP and MHP hold the majority, resistance must be far more extraparliamentary.
İnce portrayed himself in his election campaign to be a strong challenger to Erdoğan. This inspired hope in many people. However, Muharrem İnce revealed his true face on election night and showed that he was just a braggart and was not prepared to struggle for victory until the end. Some have pointed by way of reason to the possibility that İnce had been blackmailed into consenting to Erdoğan’s electoral victory before the votes had been fully counted. I do not think that İnce was threatened in person. İnce simply displayed the demeanour expected of a social democrat or Kemalist in such a situation.
“THE LEADERS OF GERMAN SOCIAL DEMOCRACY DID NOT DISPLAY A DIFFERENT REACTION AT THE TIME OF HITLER”
The CHP regards itself as a Kemalist and Social Democratic party. This means in practice that it combines the worst features of these two political traditions, that is devotion to the state, fear of the popular masses’ activities and nationalism. When Hitler became chancellor in 1933, the leaders of German social democracy did not display a greatly different reaction. With many social democrats in the base wishing to engage in strikes and struggle against the Nazis together with the communists, the leaders of social democracy fobbed off the base with an emasculated parliament. Unfortunately, this is the frame of mind of social democracy throughout the world.
What other alternative could there have been for İnce?
He could have objected to the official election result declared well before all the votes had been counted. He could have called his supporters onto the streets in protest, citing the numerous irregularities in the elections, the electoral manipulations and the unfair election campaign held under state of emergency conditions. Under such circumstances, HDP supporters, Kurds and others in the opposition would also have poured onto the streets. There was the serious threat of Erdoğan employing his armed militias, the Ottoman Hearths and SADAT gangs. This would have probably amounted to the eruption of civil war. İnce did not as a man of the state and nation seek to embark on this decisive struggle against Erdoğan with the support of the masses having taken to the streets. He saw fit to surrender. Just as last year Kılıçdaroğlu distanced himself from demonstrations held against electoral fraud following last year’s referendum and stifled the protest.
Dictatorship has actually existed for a long time. The foundations of this were laid in the 2010 Constitutional Referendum and indeed with the support of naive leftists and liberals. Following the coup attempt came the state of emergency and last year’s referendum. What we are now experiencing is not, as certain Western commentators and Turkish liberals imagine, the power of fate. What is involved is an endeavour by Erdoğan to legitimise his authoritarian rule on a national and international basis through an election. Erdoğan possesses full political and military power. But, in fact, his rule is established on very weak ground. The main reason for the early elections was the serious economic crisis that will inevitably come. The fall of the lira, the decline in foreign investment, the increase in inflation and unemployment and the price increases applied to foodstuffs are signs of the threat of economic collapse. The AKP artificially stoked up the economy prior to the election.
The AKP government must now live up the promises it gave the international capital market before the election. Erdoğan must strive to stabilise the country’s economy. Moreover, not with an eye on the needs of the popular masses, but in line with the wishes of international financial capital, creditors and investors. This means the continuation of neoliberal reforms, economic collapse, social rigidity and poverty. This in the short and medium term will hit the AKP and MHP’s sympathiser base consisting of the petit bourgeoisie and middle classes. Erdoğan and the AKP need all the powers of the presidential system to enable them to carry out this policy against their own people and even against their own sympathisers.
Just as the 12 September 1980 military coup was necessary to compel acceptance of the neoliberal reforms the World Bank and IMF were demanding in the face of the strong workers’ movement and left-wingers of the time, the presidential system will be used to this end today. Unfortunately, there are incorrect assessments on this subject within the Turkish left. There is an incorrect belief in the HDP that the economic collapse is simply due to the absence of democracy and presence of corruption. But, capital has no need for democracy. The exact reverse applies. The reaction that the Turkish Industry and Business Association and other bodies representing capital have displayed towards Erdoğan’s election shows this. What capital needs is security and investment guarantees. These have both been lost in recent years with it being unclear what Erdoğan is going to do and the Gülen capital group stealing assets.
The HDP and CHP’s manifesto pledges to give monetary benefits and tax cuts to workers, the retired and farmers and fight corruption are inadequate. It must be said where the money is to come from. In this regard, there must be talk of nationalising the sectors and infrastructure, banks and companies that the AKP has privatised and creating alternatives to capitalism to develop a planned economy in the interests of workers.
Translation: Timothy Drayton