Remember Ergenekon?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I saw something about Ergenekon in the Turkish Daily Tattler yesterday. It seemed so quaint: so people are still talking about Ergenekon!

The piece involved an interview with Yaprak Gürsoy from Istanbul's Bilgi University. Here are some of the things she had to say:

TDT: Give us a summary of your findings.
Gürsoy: The Ergenekon investigation and trials are a double-edge sword for Turkish democracy. They are good in a sense that it’s possible to observe that with these trials, public attitudes toward the military have began to change. People have less confidence in the Turkish military. But it is also possible to observe that they are leading to polarization in Turkish politics, especially between supporters of political parties, and that’s not good for Turkish democratic consolidation.
TDT: Your study also suggests that there is also a negative consequence of Ergenekon case.Gürsoy: It leads to polarization. When you investigate which groups believe the Ergenekon terrorist organization exists, you can see a sharp difference between political party supporters. Those who voted for the AKP [Justice and Development Party] in the 2011 elections overwhelmingly think that the Ergenekon terror organization exists. Most of those who voted CHP [Republican People’s Party] think that Ergenekon does not exist and that the case rests on fabricated evidence. There is a sharp polarization between CHP and AKP supporters.
Read the whole interview for context, but I found it interesting that the "negative" potential of Ergenekon was that it leads to "polarization!"
So does that mean that there were no "negative" effects of Ergenekon itself, other than the fact that lots of people thought the trials were politically motivated?

I also found myself wondering why a piece like this would be appearing now. What's the occasion? I guess everybody's getting used to the new reality in Turkey, since the AKP appears to have largely won its battle with the military leadership.

I've written a fair bit about Ergenekon, and don't have much to add here. In any case, what matters now is the new Constitution---which apparently really is going to happen sometime this year.

That would make sense. Until then, they can keep stringing out their exorcism of the ghosts of 1980 to keep support for Ergenekon--and for whatever new Constitution is proposed--at a high enough level.

And then we'll see what the new Constitution is like.

After that, however, what happens is anybody's guess. Will all of this really lead to the promised land, with the military receding from politics and a less authoritarian system becoming better established? Or will Turkey end up simply trading military authoritarianism with the authoritarianism of a civilian political party? 

That, my friends, is the 20,000,000 E.T.L. question!

Don't spend it all in one place!



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