Turkey – in a State of Emergency. What’s Next? Once a security buffer that separated Europe from the Middle East`s crises, Turkey is now a terrorized state.
A terrorist attack at the airport, a failed coup, the assassination of the Russian Ambassador in Ankara or the New Year’s Eve massacre, are just some of the events that marked a bloody 2016 for Turkey. At the same time, excluding Syria, Turkey is the state that has witnessed the most terrorist attacks coming from Daesh in the previous year. Moreover, due to the dynamics of regional geopolitical, tensions between Ankara and Washington are growing, the Turks being dissatisfied with the support of the USA for the Kurds in Syria, which has made Fikri Ișık, the defense minister in Ankara, to announce that his country could close the Incirlik Air Base. Obviously, these escalating tensions raise questions about Turkey's future relationship with the West. But beyond foreign policy, Turkey risks sinking internally into a socio-political crisis, coordinated with a possible recession and a possible retry for the army to orchestrate a coup whose effects would throw the country in total chaos.
For now, the biggest threat from within is the polarization of the society.
In an article published in the Yenisafak Review, journalist Kemal Öztürk, drew attention to this fact, considering that a social policy could be a solution against the scourge of terrorism[i].
“We all know that the real aim of terrorists wasn't to kill innocent people having fun in Reina. Their real aim was to create tension and conflict in the society through this bloodshed. Then, why don't we have a social policy that contains fields like communication, culture, education, media, psychology, sociology?”
Erdogan's call for unity has been greeted with circumspection and wariness, so long as such a lofty initiative comes from a leadership that ordered the roundup of thousands of people. But, a scenario in which social tension escalate against the AKP would be possible only in the long term; the popularity enjoyed by Erdogan is much stronger now than the feeling of social insecurity. In the long term, if this feeling will persist, it could break that trust.
A surprising move might even be the referendum on changing the Constitution, and thus transforming Turkey into a presidential republic, which would strengthen the position of Erdogan. A startling upset in this design emerges due to the fact that, since July 2016, the country has been under a state of emergency, which prevented the current government from putting into practice the project. Not having enough support in the Turkish legislative body, with the opposition demanding the resignation of the government considered unable to respond to the terrorist threat, the referendum is seen as the only alternative to achieve political goals.
Under state of emergency, France will hold presidential elections in 2017, so why couldn’t Turkey organize a referendum on changing the Constitution? Erdogan, unlike other European politicians, will not hold a referendum if he is not convinced that he will win it, one way or another.
In this respect, it is possible that Erdogan will attempt the organization of the referendum, convincing public opinion that it is the key to Turkey's exit from crisis. France is the most convenient example that AKP can cling to. Under state of emergency, France will hold presidential elections in 2017, so why couldn’t Turkey organize a referendum on changing the Constitution?
Thus, the frequent terrorist attacks and increased insecurity can weaken the current political leadership in the medium and long term, but it can be exploited in the short term by AKP. Erdogan, unlike other European politicians, will not hold a referendum if he is not convinced that he will win it, one way or another.