Journalist Brauns: İnce
saw fit to surrender
Süheyla Kaplan Artı Gerçek 27 June 2018
Brauns, assessing post-election developments
for Artı Gerçek, said,
“İnce revealed his true face on election night
and showed that he was not prepared to struggle for victory until the end.”
German journalist and historian Dr. Nick Brauns,
stating that the CHP’s presidential candidate Muharrem
İnce saw fit to surrender to President Tayyip Erdoğan, said, “Muharrem İnce revealed his
true face on election night and showed that he was just a braggart and was not
prepared to struggle for victory until the end.”
assessed post-election developments in Turkey for Artı
Gerçek, is an investigative journalist who has close
familiarity with Turkey and the Middle East.
Born in Munich in 1971, Brauns
studied history at the Ludwig-Maximilian University and completed his doctoral
education at the same university. He has worked for ten years as a consultant
in Federal Assembly Left Party Deputy Ulla Jelpke’s
office in Berlin.
At the same time, Brauns
writes articles on Turkish and Middle-Eastern affairs in the daily Junge Welt newspaper. Brauns,
who also takes a close interest in the Kurdish political movement, has a
published book and many articles. A book on left movements in Turkey by Brauns, who is also closely familiar with Syria and Iraq,
is being readied for publication.
The following are Dr. Nick Brauns’
replies to our questions:
President Erdoğan has won the presidential election in the first
round. The AKP and MHP have the absolute majority in parliament. Did you expect
such a result?
The person who believes that fascism can be
eliminated through elections has not learnt any lesson from history. There is
an old anarchist saying: “If elections were really able to change anything they
would be forbidden.” This saying also applies to the dictatorial system in
Turkey. Erdoğan and the AKP are able to use all
the state’s power for their own electoral campaigns, to manage elections and also
for electoral manipulation. Especially in the regions where Kurds live, there
is news of electoral manipulation, threats and physical attacks made by AKP
supporters against opposition election observers and burnt ballot slips.
Numerous irregularities emerged. Apart from direct electoral fraud, the AKP’s
monopolisation of the media, its control of virtually all TV stations and the
latter’s failure in particular to give any coverage to the HDP had a
determining effect on the elections.
Many AKP voters know no other reality apart from that
consisting of propaganda in the form of a religious and nationalistic mixture
and fake news and which is served up on every station for 24 hours. Let us not
forget that many young first-time voters were educated in the AKP school system
and have seen nothing apart from the Erdoğan
government. Looking at the election results, we see, as in the referendum,
virtually two equal groups: Those who want Erdoğan
and those who do not. Here, the opposition group is also internally divided. Votes
appear only to have swung within these blocks. Dissatisfied AKP voters voted
for the MHP, as did such CHP voters for the HDP or Good Party. Thanks to the
government’s media monopoly, the opposition had next to no chance of reaching
out to supporters of the government block made up of the AKP and MHP in its
to exist a great deal of hope during the election campaign. The opposition had
Both the CHP and HDP succeeded in mobilising their
own supporters and called them out into the streets in droves in the election
campaign. Muharrem İnce’s rallies in Izmir and Istanbul attended by millions were
undoubtedly the opposition’s biggest election campaigns in recent years. The
HDP also staged the largest rally in its own history. There was truly an
atmosphere of change in Turkey. The opposition was visible on the Justice March
held last year and this year’s 8 March World Women’s Day protests, Newroz celebrations and 1 May workers’ protests.
The most important consequence of this was the
sudden disappearance of the fear that had virtually paralysed many opposition
supporters. I am afraid that, due to the election result and the disgraceful
stance Muharrem İnce
displayed, many opposition supporters will become discouraged and incapable of
seeing any perspective. This applies in particular to the west of Turkey. The
Kurds have sufficient experience not to become discouraged thanks to their
resistance struggle of decades in duration. The Kurds are also better organised
than those in the opposition in the west of Turkey.
As such, how do
you assess the result attained by the HDP?
The HDP can take pride in its electoral success. The
HDP once more demonstrated that it had the strength to surmount the ten per
cent threshold despite thousands in the HDP ranks being in detention and the
intense pressure. The HDP was the strongest party in many Kurdish provinces.
This is a clear signal that, despite the war and state terrorism, the Kurdish
population still wishes to defend its own identity but wants a democratic
solution to the Kurdish problem within the borders of Turkey. The inhabitants
of such HDP strongholds as Diyarbakır-Sur, Cizre, Nusaybin, Şırnak, etc. that have been turned into ruins by
the army in recent years said in an effective manner, “We are still here. You
can demolish our houses and cities but not our morale.”
What is the significance
of the HDP reaching out to many voters in the west of Turkey this time?
What effectively led to it crossing the threshold
was the HDP scoring success in managing to address social democratic and
liberal voters in the west of Turkey who normally vote CHP. This is an
important signal. Had these voters believed the HDP to be a “terrorist” party,
they would not have voted for the HDP. It is positive for a
portion of the urban people in a secular life setting who until recently were
very distant from the Kurds or the Kurdish movement to draw close to the HDP.
Since parliament has become less powerful and
important under a presidential system in which the AKP and MHP hold the
majority, resistance must be far more extraparliamentary.
İnce portrayed himself in his election campaign
to be a strong challenger to Erdoğan. This
inspired hope in many people. However, Muharrem İnce revealed his true face on election night and
showed that he was just a braggart and was not prepared to struggle for victory
until the end. Some have pointed by way of reason to the possibility that
İnce had been blackmailed into consenting to Erdoğan’s
electoral victory before the votes had been fully counted. I do not think that
İnce was threatened in person. İnce simply displayed the demeanour
expected of a social democrat or Kemalist in such a situation.
“THE LEADERS OF GERMAN
SOCIAL DEMOCRACY DID NOT DISPLAY A DIFFERENT REACTION AT THE TIME OF HITLER”
The CHP regards itself as a Kemalist and Social
Democratic party. This means in practice that it combines the worst features of
these two political traditions, that is devotion to
the state, fear of the popular masses’ activities and nationalism. When Hitler
became chancellor in 1933, the leaders of German social democracy did not
display a greatly different reaction. With many social democrats in the base
wishing to engage in strikes and struggle against the Nazis together with the
communists, the leaders of social democracy fobbed off the base with an
emasculated parliament. Unfortunately, this is the frame of mind of social
democracy throughout the world.
alternative could there have been for İnce?
He could have objected to the official election
result declared well before all the votes had been counted. He could have
called his supporters onto the streets in protest, citing the numerous
irregularities in the elections, the electoral manipulations and the unfair
election campaign held under state of emergency conditions. Under such
circumstances, HDP supporters, Kurds and others in the opposition would also
have poured onto the streets. There was the serious threat of Erdoğan employing his armed militias, the Ottoman
Hearths and SADAT gangs. This would have probably amounted to the eruption of
civil war. İnce did not as a man of the state and nation seek to embark on
this decisive struggle against Erdoğan with the
support of the masses having taken to the streets. He saw fit to surrender.
Just as last year Kılıçdaroğlu
distanced himself from demonstrations held against electoral fraud following
last year’s referendum and stifled the protest.
Dictatorship has actually existed for a long time.
The foundations of this were laid in the 2010 Constitutional Referendum and
indeed with the support of naive leftists and liberals. Following the coup
attempt came the state of emergency and last year’s
referendum. What we are now experiencing is not, as certain Western
commentators and Turkish liberals imagine, the power
of fate. What is involved is an endeavour by Erdoğan
to legitimise his authoritarian rule on a national and international basis
through an election. Erdoğan possesses full
political and military power. But, in fact, his rule is established on very
weak ground. The main reason for the early elections was the serious economic
crisis that will inevitably come. The fall of the lira, the decline in foreign
investment, the increase in inflation and unemployment and the price increases
applied to foodstuffs are signs of the threat of economic collapse. The AKP
artificially stoked up the economy prior to the election.
The AKP government must now live up the promises it
gave the international capital market before the election. Erdoğan
must strive to stabilise the country’s economy. Moreover, not
with an eye on the needs of the popular masses, but in line with the wishes of
international financial capital, creditors and investors. This means the
continuation of neoliberal reforms, economic collapse, social rigidity and
poverty. This in the short and medium term will hit the AKP and MHP’s sympathiser
base consisting of the petit bourgeoisie and middle classes. Erdoğan and the AKP need all the powers of the
presidential system to enable them to carry out this policy against their own
people and even against their own sympathisers.
Just as the 12 September 1980 military coup was necessary
to compel acceptance of the neoliberal reforms the World Bank and IMF were
demanding in the face of the strong workers’ movement and left-wingers of the
time, the presidential system will be used to this end today. Unfortunately,
there are incorrect assessments on this subject within the Turkish left. There
is an incorrect belief in the HDP that the economic collapse is simply due to
the absence of democracy and presence of corruption. But, capital has no need
for democracy. The exact reverse applies. The reaction that the Turkish
Industry and Business Association and other bodies representing capital have
displayed towards Erdoğan’s election shows this.
What capital needs is security and investment guarantees. These have both been
lost in recent years with it being unclear what Erdoğan
is going to do and the Gülen capital group stealing
The HDP and CHP’s manifesto pledges to give monetary
benefits and tax cuts to workers, the retired and farmers and fight corruption
are inadequate. It must be said where the money is to come from. In this
regard, there must be talk of nationalising the sectors and infrastructure,
banks and companies that the AKP has privatised and creating alternatives to
capitalism to develop a planned economy in the interests of workers.
Translation: Timothy Drayton