Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Turkey's Communist Party emerges strengthened in municipal elections, doubles its votes

Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu and Hizam Hasirci
Against all odds and despite political polarisation between the governing AKP and the Kemalist Republican People's Party-CHP, the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) emerged significantly strengthened from the municipal elections of March 31. 

Particularly significant is the performance of TKP in the earthquake-ridden Defne municipality, in Hatay, where its candidateHizam Hasirci, received 39.62% thus coming in the second place. Additionally, the communist candidate in the Istanbul district of KadıköyFatih Mehmet Maçoğlu (formerly mayor of Dersim) was placed third, with 10.01% of the votes. 

TKP Central Committee’s Evaluation on the Local Elections: FALSE SPRING

In a statement titled "False Spring" the Central Committee of the Communist Party provides a thorough evaluation of the results of the recent municipal elections:

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey met immediately after the local elections of March 31, evaluated the election results, and started to work on updating the political and organizational agenda and the goals of the Communist Party of Turkey in the light of these results.

The fact that the most “exciting” election result of the AKP years came out of the most unexciting election in the recent history of Turkey, where the lack of excitement was reflected in the turnout, deserves to be particularly elaborated.

The cost of living and the deepening impoverishment have been the main agenda of a wide section of the society in Turkey since the fall of 2022. It is also clear that the earthquake of February 2023, which affected a large region, exposed the AKP government to a moral and conscientious questioning, dealt a blow to the government’s credibility and prestige, and directly and indirectly increased the economic hardships faced by the working people.

In this sense, the AKP entered the 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections under conditions at least as difficult as today. What saved the government last year was primarily the fact that the economic conditions and the earthquake triggered the search for stability and a strong government among large segments of the society. As a result, almost all capitalist circles and international actors, with different concerns, preferred to continue their path with Erdoğan. We should also keep in mind that Erdoğan, who has always had a higher social support than his party, showed special talent in personalizing the last year’s elections.

Another factor that led to the AKP’s success in the 2023 elections was the credibility problem of the so-called “table for six” opposition (led by CHP, including liberal-nationalist party and parties that came out of AKP). The working masses, struggling with the cost of living, saw neither unity nor solution in the opposition, and did not consider “the overthrow of the one-man regime and establishment of a strengthened parliamentary system” as a remedy to their urgent problems.

The 2024 local elections, on the other hand, were held at a moment where it was already accepted that the AKP’s rule would continue for some more time. In this sense, the pressure of stability on society was eased, but the anger and feeling of insecurity fueled by the cost of living were stronger. The image of a strong leader, which was intended to be created in the personality of Ekrem İmamoğlu (Mayor of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality), began to settle in the vacuum left by Erdoğan’s declining influence. The interventions of TÜSİAD (the organization of the big capital in Turkey) have been crucial in this process. İmamoğlu gained increased weight in the internal balances of not only the CHP (Republican People’s Party) but also all other political parties and created a wide media network; yet, this was not the result of a personal skill but the will of the capitalist class.

With such determination, they tampered the preferences of the religious sects, paved the way for formations that appealed to the conservative “National Vision” tradition, and above all, introduced new factors to the debates within the AKP. To a certain level, it was Nebati’s (former Minister of Treasury and Finance) fiscal policy, which liberal economists considered as a product of ignorant populism, that helped AKP win the 2023 elections. It was clear that Mehmet Şimşek’s (current Minister of Treasury and Finance) policies, which were praised by the same opposition liberals, would completely choke the large segments of the society, above all the retirees, suffering from the high inflation. However, the big monopolies, which were more than satisfied with the reckless steps taken by the more pro-American and liberal wing of the AKP, both in the fields of economy and foreign policy, had no difficulty in achieving the desired result by suppressing the more “nationalistic and domestic” wing within the government and the state bureaucracy – a wing that was able to act so only as far as the capitalist order allowed.

In this context, it is a great security of both the AKP and the capitalist circles that the Ekrem İmamoğlu-Özgür Özel-Mansur Yavaş (Özgür Özel is the chairman of CHP, Mansur Yavaş is the mayor of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality) trio who adopted a constructive and understanding attitude towards the government will maintain such attitude after the elections. This trio has no objection either to a foreign policy more in line with the USA or to anti-popular economic policies. Mutual assurances have already been given and a compromise has been reached.

We are faced with a scenario that will make away with the positive effects of the decline in the AKP’s votes. It would be naive to look at all these facts and rejoice that “the palace regime has been pushed back”.

The great discontent that reached its peak in the Gezi resistance was handed over ten years later to İmamoğlu, the cavalry of Koç (one of the biggest bourgeois families in Turkey), and a member of the “MHP” (nationalist/fascist party) who has completely enchained the republican reserve in the capital city. Moreover, the phrase, “we will return to the parliamentary system” that were attached to every sentence a year ago, has been replaced by the balcony speeches of the new presidential candidates who are eager to take the advantage of the presidential system to the fullest.

This is exactly what we meant when we said, “An era is opening where leaders, not parties, will come to the fore”.

Turkey of the AKP and Turkey of the opponents of the AKP have intertwined, and the religious sects and conglomerates have been the mortar of it.

Communist Party of Turkey has been pointing out to, opposing and fighting this operation from the very beginning. We will continue our path in this direction, we will not be a sidekick to this or that actor of the system like others.

TKP received 127 thousand votes in the local elections, doubling its votes that received in the 2023 elections, which were far below its political influence. The number of votes that we received in the last elections is also far below the political and organizational influence of the party. On the other hand, in the Defne district of Hatay, one of the most severely devastated settlements in the earthquake, TKP ran in the elections with the claim of reviving the city without entering into any alliance. And although it received more than 39 percent of the votes, the party lost the mayorship by a small margin. In addition, the TKP received more than 1 percent of the votes in 32 districts and many small towns, some of which are located in the most conservative regions of Turkey. Our party won ten municipal council seats and one provincial council seat. The most crucial achievement of the party during the election period, of course, has been the creation of new organizations and registration of a large number of new volunteers in the party.

In the Kadıköy municipality election, which attracted great public attention, our party achieved a result that was far below expectations. As already known, Mr. Maçoğlu was the TKP candidate for the mayor of Kadıköy in the name of Kadıköy People’s Solidarity. The great public attention witnessed during the devoted and comprehensive work carried out during the election period was not reflected in the ballot box; this is partly related to the general picture of the elections in the country, but it is mainly due to the political gaps that we left. We will evaluate these in detail together with our friends.

For TKP, election results can never be the sole, not even a decisive criterion for a political and organizational evaluation. For TKP, elections do not constitute a separate topic on its own; the party considers elections as an element in its own struggle, on its own path based on its own principles, program and goals. In this sense, we will not deviate an inch from our struggle against imperialism, multinational monopolies, big capital and religious sects in Turkey. However, we will not postpone a courageous discussion and evaluation on the reasons why the political influence of the party was not reflected in the votes. In this sense, as we stated immediately after the 2023 elections, it is an absolute necessity for the TKP to transform its move for expansion and localization into a simultaneous deepening process. It is already impossible for a working-class party to fulfil its revolutionary mission otherwise. Our friends should be sure that the party will take necessary actions.

TKP is on duty. We will not leave this country to imperialists, exploiters and religious sects."