Aksener’s agenda in toppling the Table of Six
The first words of Meral Aksener’s speech were empty rhetoric, the last were the pearls of absurdity drawing from the fascist right’s infatuation with history. Envisaging herself as important enough to make history or to write history is one of the reflections of this right-wing politics. She forgets that history has a garbage heap as well, reserved for those who cannot make its pages.
SNARES, GREAT POWERS, THE ERGENEKON VALLEY
The topic of the “snare” that came up in the beginning of her speech ranks high in the list of right-wing “use and dispose” maxims. It is a somewhat mythical, somewhat pathological turn of phrase, comparable to the hogwash of “the great powers of the world are all against us” that is spouted by some, the romanticized racism underlying the proverb, “the Turk has no friend but the Turk,” or the racist complex of “the entire world envies us.”
Playing the role of the blacksmith and the wolf who led the trapped tribe out of the Ergenekon valley is closely related to this “snare” issue.* Well, their talk of “Asena” is not for nothing! So, who has ensnared the Aksener tribe in this narrative? She delves into this later in her speech, but it is unclear whether she is pointing to the Table of Six or the regime. Then, she turns the topic to “yesterday’s Table of Six meeting,” and says:
“At yesterday’s meeting, five political parties mentioned Kilicdaroglu’s name. In yesterday’s meeting, we proposed Mansur Yavas and Ekrem Imamoglu as presidential candidates. Our effort to put on the table the rightful expectations of the nation were rejected.”
A FIVE PERSON IMPOSITION, AND A SOLITARY RESISTANCE!
Before moving on to the content of the rest of her speech, let us note the dismissive animosity in mentioning Kilicdaroglu by his last name while using the full names of the Misters Yavas and Imamoglu.
The six partners sit at the table, five propose a candidate, while the sixth proposes two. Then, they disband, agreeing to discuss the matter in three days’ time. Later, one of them, that is, Aksener, comes out exclaiming “Impositions! Snares!” and speaks in such a manner that it becomes impossible to distinguish whether someone from the Table of Six is criticizing the regime or if someone from the regime is criticizing the Table.
I will not say that she does not know what she is saying. On the contrary, she knows quite well, which is why she attempts to utilize one of the distinctive characteristics of the regime: to label the suggestion of five people an “imposition” while calling her own “the expectation of the nation” is a line of reasoning particular to the current regime in today’s Turkey. From the law to sports, from engineering to theology, doing business on the basis of “upending any logic” is a defining characteristic of the regime, and it is what Kilicdaroglu terms “Erdoganism.”
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE REGIME
This reverse-logic is not simply a result of the intersections of racist-religious-right wing political figures. That is, it is not only the consequence of a similarity in thought and action. Rather, this contrarianism is a conscious preference and Aksener’s outburst is because she has finally made some headway in her negotiations with the regime.
If she is adopting and unleashing the regime’s discourse (e.g., Aksener represents “the nation,” while those acting in a self-serving manner are always the others), its methods (e.g., the perspective of five people is an imposition, while hers is the embodiment of truth itself) and its jargon (e.g., greed, bold-faced lies, notary tables, gambling tables) on the Table of Six, and if her efforts to humiliate Kilicdaroglu are plain, this is a clear indication that even if she does not seek to join the regime, she at least has a desire to be in its proximity.
In the eyes of Aksener and her staff, this desire to draw nearer to the regime nested in a speech that carries an air of moral superiority probably trivializes the unethical act of the invitation extended to two important figures from another party. Anyway, no unethical act is visible for those like herself who speak perched on high-up places. That place the “Turk/Sunni-Muslim = the supreme nation.” Just like everyone else who speaks from this podium, Aksener too views Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy as a threat to this axiom and so flips the script into a matter of existence and extinction, and not one of morality.
FROM A PLACE OF TRUST TO TOPPLING THE TABLE
But what could be the reason for the arrogant tone and belittling manner underlying her revolt against Kilicdaroglu, to whom she had made such a show of respect in the past months, even going so far as to say she would “bequeath her family” to him? Is it simply her commonalities with the regime in terms of ideology, organization, and political base? That is, is it due to the aforementioned Turk/Islam religious fascism? Is it a deal struck with the Palace? Or has the deep state become involved in the issue? What has happened?
I would not be surprised if it comes out that she did this because of an agreement with the regime, or that this deal was struck with the people known as the “deep state” acting as intermediaries. I had already previously written that some sort of negotiation was at play, and that hints of this were evident in most of Aksener’s and some of Erdogan and Bahceli’s words.
As it stands, there is no such thing as a “deep state” anyway. With its shell and its interior, the entity called the “state” is one body. That aside, even if it is possible to conclude that they sat at a table together with the help of deep state intermediaries and came to an agreement, and that the rest is nothing but a performance, my assessment is to the contrary. For now, they have neither sat down and shook hands, and nor is this the setup of any deep state actors.
It is as follows: Aksener declared her independence to strengthen her hand in the case of any negotiations with the regime. We had been witnessing for some time a state of discontent and tension on the part of the Good Party towards the Table. This was partially due to ideological incongruence, partially due to other members, and partially due to their base. That being said, the four other right-leaning parties remaining on the Table also have issues with one other and with the Republican People’s Party (CHP) with regard to ideology, organization, and base. The Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party and the Future Party are also parties that have emerged from the Turk/Islam synthesis. So why are they not leaving as well? Because their own agendas prevent them from doing so at this point in time. So, when exactly did Aksener’s agenda shift? This is the question we must answer.
EMPTY POLITICAL RHETORIC: A WINNING CANDIDATE
One point which deviated from Aksener’s agenda was the matter of the polling that led to the inane insistence on a “winning candidate.” The conviction that their share of the votes is over 15 percent is one of the reasons for the bratty behavior of this party. However, polling data, at most, reflects reality as it is today, but for the most part, it points to the nature of yesterday. On the other hand, the election, at the very least, reflects today, but most definitely reflects the future. If this was not the case, had a poll been conducted the day his candidacy was announced, Ekrem Imamoglu who was not known by even two percent of the electorate, would not have taken the Mayorship of Istanbul. Everyone — the Good Party included — worked together and Imamoglu, “unknown by the polls,” won.
What good is this imagined vote, in that case? If they truly do take above 15 percent, it might be useful in becoming part of the ruling bloc instead of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), for example. The answer to protests of “Oh, but you have been in the opposition for so many years, and you have said this and that” is ready and straightforward: “What does that matter? Erdogan and Bahceli had gone on and one about each other as well.”
BELITTLING THEIR ALLIES AND ANTI-LEFTISM
These calculations also have an aspect related to the Table. The Good Party clearly “looks down” on the other four parties, both in terms of capacity and ethics. As such, it considers each opportunity for a parliamentary seat and each public office afforded to these parties, which it views through the lens of “they will gain zero parliament members in the election,” as having come from its own pocket. This is why the Good Party has been dragging its feet, acting sluggish, and even refusing to participate during the Table’s work for a long time now, as Ankara journalist Ozlem Akarsu explained on ArtiTV yesterday.
Already so disgruntled due to its own “greatness” by the right-leaning parties that could qualify as members of its ideological family, Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s visiting the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TIP) and the Left Party was bound to upset Aksener and her folks. And it did. These might be “trivial” causes, but a bigger reason is the effectiveness of Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s stance after the earthquake in upsetting the calculations of Aksener and her people. After the earthquake, Kilicdaroglu displayed an efficient and serious presence on the ground (for example, the work of the party and municipalities belonging to the party, and the coordination and dialogue of the party with others and civil society organizations), while Aksener and her party were left behind both in terms of actions and words.
KURD-PHOBIA AND ANIMOSITY TOWARDS THE HDP
Moreover, Mister Kemal displayed the courage to show that he was happy to be in the same frame as Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Pervin Buldan in Diyarbakir and that he had trashed the universal rule of “curse the HDP, and if you can’t, overlook it entirely.” Aksener and her people decided to topple the table because, in addition to the alluring notion of bargaining with the regime, all this signaled that Mr. Kemal is not the “candidate who cannot win” but rather the candidate that has a high likelihood of winning. Naturally, the ongoing negotiations with the regime were also influential in this decision-making process.
THE FEAR OF SHARING POWER
But, of course, there is a dimension to this matter where the word “deep” does have a role. Mister Kemal and the CHP’s performance in the aftermath of the earthquake combined with another performance: The HDP, first and foremost, and all other socialist-left parties demonstrated a serious presence in the earthquake zone. It made little noise in the press, but it was “seen.” And based on my personal observations, this presence was visible enough to have an effect on the votes.
This visibility probably also had an effect on Mr. Kemal’s series of leftist visits. In this context, a CHP and Kilicdaroglu which comes to power through the support of HDP and the socialist-left must of course share that power with those groups. But had we not left the parliamentary system because it could not stop the HDP? Then, we must not allow this to happen. The thing termed “deep” here is actually rather superficial. It naturally refers to some segments of the government bureaucracy, but especially the economic hegemony and the power elites who stand to benefit from the status quo. What had happened after the June 7 elections is occurring once more, this time before the elections whose date is yet undetermined. This time around, Aksener is assuming the positions of Bahceli and Baykal. This is enticing to them for the following reason: “We will get over 15%, we will be part of the ruling bloc instead of the MHP or alongside the MHP, and then come the government tenders. Kemal the Kurd can bemoan his fate in the corner.”
According to this calculation, Aksener will probably be a candidate for the presidency. In her mind, if she prevents Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu from being elected in the first-round and gets over 15 percent of the vote, then her hand will be strengthened to bargain with everyone in the second-round. The sheer force of the kick with which she hit the Table is essentially a manifestation of this future power corruption.
There is plenty more to say, so I will continue. Many possibilities lie hidden in Aksener’s kick.
* In reference to the Turkic founding myth.