The Parliamentarist Discourse and Turkey’s Failed Coup d'état

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hossein Mofidi Ahmadi, Ph.D. in International Relations &
Europe Analyst

The failure of the recent coup attempt in Turkey and its comparison with the successful coup d'état staged by the Egyptian military can teach good lessons to political leaders in Ankara and across region. Perhaps the most important lesson of this coup attempt was that if a society chooses for parliamentary methods in order to pursue its goals, violent and non-civil actions would never succeed in that society. On the opposite, if following the coup attempt, the leaders of Turkey choose to jeopardize political and social freedoms more than before, the possibility of weakening of the parliamentary discourse in Turkey and across region and, as a result, resurgence of violent political and ethnic actions cannot be totally ruled out.

A study of developments in Turkey during the past three decades will reveal the country’s step by step movement in the direction of pursuing and realizing its economic, political and social demands through a parliamentarist approach. The coming to power of the ruling Justice and Development Party was also a result of the preference given to parliamentarist mechanisms and in turn, solidified those mechanisms. Within this framework, political and especially economic developments which took place after Turkey chose for free market economy, in addition to the process of the country’s accession to the European Union, led to internalization of those political and social groups, which had been previously marginalized in the society. Two important social and ethnic groups in Turkey, that is, Islamist groups and Kurds, were among these groups. Meanwhile, in line with its strategic goals and also in order to create a security shield against the country’s military, the Justice and Development Party took advantage of its domestic and international potentialities (including accession to the European Union) and took steps in order to strengthen the parliamentarist discourse and put further limits on those actors which previously had veto right in the country.

The fact that opposition parties in Turkey did not support the coup attempt can be understood within framework of powerful presence of parliamentarist discourse in the country. However, there is no doubt that due to certain factors, including the dimming outlook of accession to the European Union following 2005, the Arab Spring developments, and some changes in balance of domestic powers, Turkey has been witnessing the rise of more monopolistic tendencies among its leaders, especially President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during recent years.

However, such parties as the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which strongly oppose recent approaches of the Turkish government and some of them had at least shown tacit support for previous military coups by the army in past decades in order to reverse the political direction of the country, turned their back on coup plotters this time. If this coup is compared with the successful coup d'état staged by the Egyptian military, we would note that among major reasons behind the success of the Egyptian military was weakness of the parliamentarist discourse in social and political spheres of Egypt. That coup toppled Egypt’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and for many years to come, has cast serious doubt on the possibility of reestablishment of a broad-based political system in the country.

It seems that actions taken by major actors in Turkey’s political environment, especially Erdogan, following the failed coup can either weaken or bolster the parliamentarist discourse in the country and across the region. Therefore, if the course of post-coup developments lead to weakening of the political internalization in the country and jeopardize political and social freedoms more than before, it is possible for the parliamentarist discourse in Turkey to be scuttled as a result of which resurgence of non-civil political and ethnic actions and even a repeated coup d'état in the country in not-so-far future would be quite likely. On the opposite, if the leaders of the ruling government reach this important conclusion in their assessments that the only reason behind the failure of the recent coup – which prevented them from meeting the same fate as the former Turkish prime minister, Adnan Menderes – was solely the rise and dominance of the parliamentarist discourse in the country, they would avoid adopting monopolistic and nondemocratic policies and would instead shore up the aforesaid discourse.

Key WordsParliamentarist Discourse, Turkey, Failed Coup d'état, Egyptian Military, Political and Social Freedoms, Islamist Groups, Kurds, Opposition Parties, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Republican People's Party (CHP), Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Nondemocratic Policies, Mofidi Ahmadi

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*Photo Credit: Turkish Minute