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Its funny the Cranberries came to town…

August 20, 2010

…because Turkey’s acting like its 1995!

The referendum coming up on 12 September sure is interesting. Not just because of the heavy-handed symbolism referring to the first 12 September, but because of how its being framed by the two major parties. We’re at a time when people look at pants and moustaches as serious signifiers of identity. It must be political silly season. We’ve already discussed what’s in the referendum package, but lets look at the dialogue surrounding it.

So as I said, the constitutional mini-crisis is in many ways a throwback to the messy old days. In the 1990’s, you had Tansu Ciller and Mesut Yilmaz of DYP and Anavatan riding on the coattails of their more successful predecessors: Demirel and Ozal, respectively. The decade ended with the undead corpse of Bulent Ecevit being exhumed in order to bring stability in. After Ozal’s sudden passing, Demirel became president. All of this deserves far more analysis than is currently relevant, but just remember that everyone was corrupt, nobody was powerful, and Refah – the Islamicist predecessor of the AKP – got elected out of sheer frustration in ’96 and thrown out by a PoMo Coup a year later. Also, Ecevit looked like a Film Noir Groucho Marx

Prime Minister Hackenbush

All of the wacky 1990s machinations took place with Demirel as president. One impressive thing during all of the current CHP-AKP infighting is how smooth and effective Gul has been at riding above it. Demirel was not. Demirel was pretty much a political opportunist, who had the gall to bring MIT against Abulfez Elcibey in Azerbaijan…and then welcome Elcibey to Turkey when he was kicked out. This is all purely Speculative Tense, but it gives you an idea of what we’re discussing.

Because nowadays we have Zaman talking about how Turkey needs a Truth & Reconciliation Committee of sorts in English and saying how Adnan Menderes would’ve just LOVED the referendums in Turkish. And while they aren’t the government mouthpiece Yeni Safak is, well, Yeni Safak has the same damn story. And this is all while labeling Kilicdaroglu as an out-of-touch lacky.

Hurriyet wants us to ask who is running the country. Hint: its not Ergenekon, its something far more…sinister. (Why yes, the man who posted that picture has a link to Dhimmitude. How could you guess?)

I should reiterate: the issue is complex, and in many ways, nothing I say or do here will effect what happens. The lines are set, the teams are made, and all they’re really doing is picking the last kids in the gym class. But what is interesting is the rhetoric.

Gone is the “AKP as a new way of doing things” theory that runs that party. AKP has become the old way. Much like Anavatan, their newness has been corrupted and they’ve been dragged down to the lowest common denominator. With articles about Menderes, there is a decided “Look what happens if we don’t fight the old ways” message. But in the “Look at who is running this country” article, they say how effective the old ways have been. And to see how foreign relations are then pressed into “Well, what does Al-Qaeda or the US or the PKK want to see in the referendum?” question. Which I can answer: don’t care, don’t care, bigger issues to deal with…and not do go off on another tangent, but Apo must be rolling in his prison bed at the PKK caring two dates worth for Ramadan.

Its the old personal attacks and vitriolic cartoons that don’t really pass the sniff test. Nowhere else could you see this and this with a straight face. And where you can see really good, incisive, analysis  (which Aengus Collins’ piece truly is) that discusses this all in personal terms. The issues really are not relevant to the argument, the grandstanding has become the issues. For the AKP to get caught behind this and the CHP unable to rise above it has become a whole other set of talking points. All while the usual suspects (Genc Ozgurluk and the Communists) demanding a full-out boycott.

The 1990’s tug-of-war was pretty ugly at times and didn’t really advance the political dialogue all that much. And now that AKP has taken Anavatan’s place (and then some) they’re falling into similar traps. It’d be interesting to see how they and CHP frame the fallout after all of this effort to frame the fight.

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