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Golden age of Kemalism, "the single party regime"
1.       thehandsom
7403 posts
 10 Dec 2008 Wed 10:55 am

Deniz Baykal, the leader of the main opposition People’s Republican Party, or CHP, ...

But just a month ago, he made a surprising move by blessing the acceptance ceremony of a group of veiled women in his party. And, alas, these ladies were the most orthodox of all: they wore the all-black, all-covering chador. "We can’t push these people to the AKP’s ranks," he mind-bogglingly said. "They, too, deserve a place under the CHP roof." 


As you can imagine, not all CHP folks were happy with this unexpected u-turn. Criticism against Baykal for "selling out secularism" grew in party ranks..... He even took a bolder step this week, by countering his critics with a critique of the golden age of Turkish ultra-secularism: the "single party" period. 



That period had begun in 1925 when the newly founded CHP banned all political opposition in order to reign uncontested for a quarter of a century. In the ´30’s, the party even became identical with the state, as was the case in Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy. 


We Turks politely call that period "the single party regime," because the more common name given to such regimes, i.e., dictatorship, offends our sensibilities. It is just like calling our Kurds "southeasterners," or calling Iraqi Kurdistan "northern Iraq." This is a country of euphemisms. 


For most Kemalists the "single party period" is what the age of Prophet Mohammed and the "rightly guided caliphs" are to devout Muslims. It is the ideal era when pure wisdom reigned supreme, only to be corrupted by the latecomers. That’s why the end of the "single party regime" is often described by Kemalist pundits, and even historians, as the beginning of the "counter-revolution." 


In a speech he gave at parliament last Tuesday, Mr. Baykal referred to one of the tragicomic episodes from the Kemalist Golden Age: The ban put on villagers to walk on the Atatürk Boulevard of Ankara. 


But designing the public space was not enough: The people who will strolled on it had to be designed as well. All members of the new Kemalist class, gentlemen who wore bowler hats and ladies who put on feathery ones, were most welcome, of course. But much of Turkey did not look that chic. While these elites were enjoying fancy balls that reflected the "Western way of life" that the regime preferred for its citizens, the majority of these citizens were living in destitute poverty. 


The villagers of Ankara, .... Therefore their presence on the Atatürk Boulevard was banned. The police literally pushed these easterners away from the westernized avenue, so that the national travesty could go on uninterrupted G at least in the "public square." 


This tell-tale memoir of the "single party" era is what Deniz Baykal referred to last Tuesday in order to defend his new line on the headscarf. "In the single party era, people were told to change their dress codes first in order to be welcomed onto the Atatürk Boulevard," he reminded people. "But we can’t do this today." 

The genie out of the bottle

.... by blaming him for "rejecting the CHP’s heritage" and being influenced by "the liberals," which she sees as counter-revolutionaries. Tufan Türenç, a hardcore secular columnist, nervously reminded yesterday that the CHP is "the party of Atatürk, not Baykal." 


The rest :


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