Since the introduction of the presidential system in 2018 and the necessity to reach 50%+x votes to win the presidential elections, party politics in Turkey have come to be performed in alliances. While the governing party AKP has joined forces with the MHP (Cumhur or People’s Alliance), six opposition parties have come together in the so-called Millet (National) Alliance. These include the Kemalist CHP, the secular-nationalist Iyi (Good) Party, the AKP-splinters Deva and Gelecek, the main representative of traditional political Islam Saadet and the centre-right Demokrat Party. This shows that the Millet Alliance is not ideological, but has agreed to return to a parliamentary system and defend certain political values such as the rule of law, democratic standards, the independence of the judiciary and human rights. Since the Millet alliance parties represent a broad spectrum of political currents, this could help to overcome the increasing polarization and lead to more inclusive policies. However, is it credible that these parties will really defend democratic values, for which none of them was known in the past? Are voters in Turkey, who are currently mainly concerned about the economy, rising costs of living, inflation and a devaluation of the Turkish Lira, really interested in the independence of the judiciary or freedom of expression? What has the Millet Alliance to say about the economic situation and other daily concerns? Whereas the Kurdish votes were decisive in the 2019 municipal elections where a joint opposition could win in major cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Mersin or Adana, the representative of the Kurdish political movement, the HDP, is not part of the alliance. What can the Kurds expect from the Millet Alliance?

The phenomenon whereby opposition parties are joining forces with a pro-democracy attitude in elections against authoritarian leaders can be observed globally. From Poland to Hungary to Brazil. We will therefore also look at the Hungarian case and what lessons the Turkish opposition could learn from the Hungarian experience.

Participants:

Mumcu Aybars is one of the founders of the Uğur Mumcu Investigative Journalism Foundation in 1994 with family members Guldal Mumcu and Ozgur Mumcu. She graduated from Bilkent University and has an MA in Political Science and Public Administration from Ankara University. She has a PhD from METU Political Science and Public Administration in political discourse analysis during the time of polarization using humour as a tool for analysis entitled: “HEGEMONY VERSUS HOMOUR: AN ANALYSIS OF TURKISH POLARIZED POLITICS THROUGH PRESS PORTRAYALS 1947-1960”. She worked as a political advisor at Democratic Left Party in 2006 and 2007. Since 2007, she has been working as the board member and coordinator of the Uğur Mumcu Investigative Journalism Foundation. She translated Robin Ramsey’s book on “Conspiracy Theories” in 2007 and has written several articles for Cumhuriyet, Birgün, www.t24.com.tr, and www.yeniarayis.com since 2010. From 2011 – to 2012, she was an Erasmus Student at Panteion University in Athens, Greece. She wrote several articles on the economic crisis in Greece for Cumhuriyet. She has worked as an advisor at TEPAV, and on EU and Council of Europe relations, constitutional amendments, peace process, and human rights issues from 2012 to 2014. In 2016 she was elected for a EUVP Fellowship. Between 2014 – 2018 she worked at Başkent University Faculty of Communication as a lecturer and as a part-time lecturer at Bilkent University International Relations Department. From 2018 onwards she has been working as a consultant for CHP İstanbul Deputy/ Principal Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Mr Ünal Çeviköz, on foreign affairs, press and communication, and public communication. She worked as the project coordinator of the Uğur Mumcu Investigative Journalism Foundation Project on the European Commission’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) Country Based Support Scheme (CBSS) Turkey Programme: “Dissemination of rights-based journalism through civil society” (www.gazetecilikokulu.net). She worked as the project coordinator on the Swedish Consulate Project on um:ag Empowering Local Women Journalists Online Platform (www.gazetecilerplatformu.com). She is also working as the project coordinator on the Swedish Consulate Project to empower local journalism and CSOs while creating a Human Rights Channel for CSOs under www.gazetecilerplatformu.com since March 2022. She writes weekly columns for www.kisadalga.net & www.yetkinreport.com and has a podcast series named “Bu Işıltılı Hayatı Biz Seçmedik”. She has also worked on an unofficial glossary for Covid-19 (www.temaslisozluk.com). She is married to Evren Aybars and has a son. She speaks fluent English, Italian at the intermediate level and has basic knowledge of French and German.

Osman Sert is the Research Director at Ankara Institute. As a journalist he covered the economy, the Prime Minister’s office and diplomacy. He was a diplomatic reporter for Kanal 7, diplomatic editor at Cnn Turk and Jerusalem Bureau Chief of TRT. He served as advisor of Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs (2009-2014) and Prime Minister (2014-2016) of Turkey. He is one of the editors of perspektif.online , a Turkish website for mainly academic articles on domestic, foreign policy and social issues. He is also a columnist at Karar newspaper.

Sezin Öney is a journalist and a political scientist based  in Istanbul. She resided extensively in Hungary and Greece. Her interest in her subject area populism was sparked about a decade ago; she focuses specifically about populist leadership, populism in Turkey and Hungary. She studied International Relations, Nationalism, Jewish history, Austro-Hungarian history, Linguistic Rights, the Kurdish Question, Comparative Politics and Discourse Analysis. As a journalist, her specialization is on European affairs and global politics; with a comparative angle to Turkey. She currently writes columns for the opinion web site Politik Yol.

Moderator: Ekrem Guzeldere, Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow, Turkey Programme, ELIAMEP

Watch the discussion here.