A NEW POLITICAL TERM STARTING WITH EID AL-FITR

Today's Zaman
Sept 1 2008
Turkey

The new legislative term political actors are readying for will begin
with a first in Turkey's republican history. For the first time,
Parliament's Oct. 1 return to session will coincide with Eid al-Fitr.

The opening will be held on the festival day, as per the Constitution;
however, whether the president will give a speech at the opening is
not yet clear. Parliament may have a break through the end of the
festival -- it's an official holiday -- after the opening session. If
Parliament decides not to take a break, the president may deliver
his opening speech.

A friend of mine who is an experienced politician hopes that the
new term starting with the festival will be of free crises, saying,
"If everyone is able to renew themselves by learning lessons from
the past, politics may refocus on its real mission: the generation
of solutions to the existing problems."

Noting that the opposition parties -- particularly the main opposition
-- seem unable to renew themselves, Bekir Bozdag, a leading Justice
and Development Party (AK Party) figure, underlines that those
accustomed to relying upon irresolution have little chance to adopt
solution-oriented politics.

Political actors are making their calculations for the new term and the
upcoming local elections in early 2009. The AK Party, whose success
in the July 22 elections was undermined by the closure case against
it, is eager to secure another victory in the local elections. The
leading AK Party names who say that this will not be an ordinary
victory attach great importance to local elections for the sake of
Turkey's normalization and the provision of uninterrupted services
until the general elections. They have a clear goal: to exceed the
47 percent of votes in the July 22 elections by one or two points
and to win the local government seats in Diyarbakır, Izmir, Tunceli
and Cankaya. Such a victory would allow the AK Party to expand the
sphere of politics in Turkey and give the message to the outer world
that it is a ruling party with strong popular support.

AK Party figures who note that a strong message would also contribute
to greater economic stability in a relatively shorter time view this
goal as part of preparation for the general elections that will be
held either in 2011 or 2012. The ruling party attaches importance to
the local elections and political stability to reduce inflation rate
to one-digit figures, create employment opportunities and to raise
per capita income to $10,000.

A leftist friend of mine who notes that the political left will taste a
bitter defeat in the elections, says: "For a new leftist movement that
will focus on the generation of solutions, the [Republican People's
Party] CHP should taste a defeat. Otherwise, the emergence of a leftist
party against the political right will be postponed all the time and,
as usual, Turkey will pay for the lack of a strong opposition."

There is no visible sign that the CHP, which lost impact because of
its tense relations with the army, universities and the judiciary,
will develop a new style of politics in the new term. Its recent
reaction to proposals by Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan and the
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) shows that it will stick to its
former political line.

The MHP keeps stressing that Turkey needs normalize in an attempt to
expand its sphere of supporters. However the party, which succeeded
in implementing this policy until March 14, failed to pass the test
during the closure case against the AK Party. Proposals voiced by
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli -- who said the AK Party should change its
leader or clone itself -- met with serious reaction by the party's
support base and deputies. Some leading names even assert that Bahceli
will restrict the party's sphere of influence with his proposals.

The MHP has prepared a nine-article package to address the developments
that negatively affected the party's image. Though it seems sincere in
its proposals, the AK Party is taking a cautious approach toward the
MHP's attempts, considering that the cooperation between the AK Party
and the MHP in regards to the constitutional amendments brought the
former to the brink of closure. For this reason, the new proposals
by the MHP are being met with suspicion. Skeptics view the package
as a new plot.

However the MHP, which is not plotting, is developing a set of
policies in an attempt to ensure normalization in Turkey and prevent
a probable election defeat. The Democratic Society Party (DTP) will
probably encounter difficult times in the new term. The DTP will have
difficulty maintaining its support base because of the discussions that
took place during the Ergenekon case process. The DTP will have to deal
with the closure case and is uncomfortable with the recently escalated
terror. The party does not want to lose the Diyarbakır Municipality to
the AK Party, but is having trouble because of the lack of a coherent
approach vis-a-vis the terror issue and the Ergenekon case.

Gul's second year in the presidential palace has begun

President Abdullah Gul, who has completed his first year in the office,
gave important messages at the start of the second year. Gul, who was
elected president following bitter discussions, rendered opposition
against his presidency ineffective because of his good performance.

President Gul, whose difference from his predecessors Demirel and
Sezer was pretty visible, demonstrated that he paid attention to
transparency when he decided to post documentaries on Ataturk on the
presidency's official Web site.

During his term so far, Gul has hosted 19 heads of state and paid
21 visits to 17 countries. His scheduled visit to Yerevan in the
first week of his second year in the office is significant in many
respects. This visit will carry a number of messages, including that
Yerevan should pursue a policy independent of the Armenian diaspora
and that both countries need to seek resolution of the bilateral
dialogue problems.

Mrs. Paksut and YARSAV Chair Eminagaoglu

Ankara, which had been quiet and silent for a while, was rocked by two
scandals. The interrogation of Ferda Paksut, the wife of Constitutional
Court Deputy Chairman Osman Paksut, as "suspect" in connection with
the Ergenekon case reminded of some serious allegations regarding
to the AK Party closure case. The second scandal concerns Union of
Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV) Chairman Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu,
who allegedly dodged the obligatory military service by using a fake
health report declaring him unfit to serve.

These two scandals are particularly important because the major actors
in these scandals have affiliations with legal institutions.

The active role Ferda Paksut played during the closure case process
undermines the impartial status of her husband. In fact, Osman Paksut
contradicted the image of an honest lawyer when he denied a bilateral
meeting with Gen. Ä°lker BaÅ~_bug.

Many are now saying Eminagaoglu should complete his military service
and that Paksut should resign.

--Boundary_(ID_8FPLEX9LVjjAlJAUcQecOA)--

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress