The joint presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey unfolded on Sunday, 24 June 2018 and ended with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan elected as president of the country, with a majority of seats going to the alliance between his party (AKP) and the traditional fascist party of the country, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP). The Revolutionary Workers’ Party, or DIP in its Turkish acronym, worked before the elections for a united front of a broad array of socialist parties, along with the so-called June Bloc, which initiative met with indifference on the part of the majority of the socialist parties, tail-ending either the self-styled social democrats of the bourgeois Republican People’s Party (CHP) or the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP). The DIP was barred from running itself at the elections by the reactionary electoral laws of Turkey, as are so many other socialist parties. During the elections, it called on the working class and the labourers not to vote for Erdoğan and the AKP, who are out to destroy all the rights and gains of the working class as well as decimating democratic freedoms.
At 5 pm on election day, the hour of the closing of the ballot boxes and the lifting of the election day ban on propaganda, DIP published a declaration that called for raising the banner of class struggle against regime of despotism, against capitalism and against imperialism. We publish below the English translation of that statement.
The ballot boxes for the presidential and parliamentary elections have now closed and a new period of struggles is opening. The electoral process has been a mirror of the despotic regime of Erdoğan and the AKP. The privileges of power have been abused, a myriad of unlawful practices have assisted the AKP and brute force has been used, all in order to subvert the will of the people. But the popular yearning and will power for freedom cannot be quelled. The struggle for freedom against despotism will continue unabated.
The economic crisis, imperialist war, and the regime of despotism stand before us as the most important issues on the order of the day. Whatever the figures and the percentages announced in the next several hours in terms of election results, the parasitic capitalist class, on the one hand, and the millions of workers and toilers, the 1 per cent, in other words, as against the 99 per cent, stand opposed on the most burning questions that bedevil Turkey. However, the 1 per cent is a class conscious group that acts in accordance with its own class interests. It is this handful of capitalists that rules the country, thanks to their economic power gained through exploitation, and has established a system in which they win whatever the results of the elections.
At 17:00 on 16 April 2017, the day of the constitutional referendum, TÜSİAD had released a statement. Some may have missed it. DIP immediately characterised this statement as the “pronunciamiento of TÜSİAD” and presented the following assessment: “TÜSİAD, the representative of the 1 per cent, of the parasitic bourgeois class, has, through this statement, put forth its stance. In this declaration, TÜSİAD demands, whatever the election results, unrestrained subordination to US and EU imperialism and an assault on the gains of the working class under the label flexibility. The bourgeoisie and imperialism will try to impose these demands, whatever the results. They will wish to bring Erdoğan and his party, shaken as their power is, as a result of a referendum whose legitimacy is suspect, to implement its own demands.”
In effect, in the run up to the 24 June elections, although there was more than one candidate for the president and more than one party or alliance that stood for parliament, there was a single programme: that of TÜSİAD. Tayyip Erdoğan came to the 24 June elections implementing the TÜSİAD credo. He privatised the sugar factories, paced up privatisation in education and health care, banned strikes, used the State of Emergency in favour of the bosses, gave a free hand to the Central Bank to raise the rate of interest, under the pressure of domestic and foreign capital, and sent his aides to London to beg for funds from imperialist financiers. He tightened cooperation with US imperialism in the Middle East, starting with Syria. He played an active part in the setting up of a NATO corridor across the northern zone of that country.
The opposition, for its part, lined up, on the eve of the elections, before TÜSİAD’s door to pay its respect. The so-called Alliance of the Nation of the main bourgeois opposition is literally committed to the TÜSİAD programme in areas such as the defence of the “free market”, reassurances to foreign capital, independence of the Central Bank, or structural reforms. Its foreign policy is centred on the US-EU axis and commitment to NATO. Loyalty to NATO is in fact the centre piece of the politics of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good Party (İYİ Party). Having extended its support for presidency to Abdullah Gül, the Bliss Party (SP) is now a part of what we have dubbed the “American opposition”. HDP also insists on a pro-NATO line, even though the damage caused to the Kurdish cause by the US is clear for all to see. In sum, the credo of TÜSİAD is well and alive.
DIP, for its part, holds that the problems of 99 per cent of Turkey’s population cannot be solved in the shadow of imperialism and along the lines of the programme of TÜSİAD. Today, socialism is the only way out for the labouring population regarding the ills that have their source in capitalism and imperialism.
Nationalisation as opposed to privatisation, the tax burden imposed on the rich rather than the poor, the prohibition of layoffs, state monopoly on foreign trade rather than the customs union with the EU, capital controls in the foreign currency regime, the nationalisation of banks with the aim of bailing out people rather than bankrupt corporations, public property and planning rather than the market and private property... These are the policies needed to make the capitalists foot the bill of the crisis, the capitalists who have themselves created the crisis in the first place. These policies can be defended only by socialists, who have no bonds of interest with the capitalists and the imperialists. Only socialists can fight in full consistency the usurpation of the right to strike by the regime of despotism, the keeping of the minimum wage under the starvation level, the impoverishment of the peasantry through streamlined methods, and the oppression of the petty tradesman by large retailers.
In order to set itself free from imperialist chains, Turkey has to break from NATO and shut down the imperialist bases, starting with Incirlik. Turkey should exit the customs union and end the negotiations for accession to the EU. Turkey’s future lies not in the European Union, but in the Unites Socialist States of Europe, to be born of the ashes of the present EU to then join its fate with the Socialist Federation of the Middle East and North Africa. Our true friends in Europe are the workers of that continent. It is only socialists that can unite anti-imperialism with the fraternity of peoples. Peace between the peoples, first and foremost on the Kurdish question, can only be attained in this fashion.
In the eyes of the Westernising bourgeoisie of Turkey, secularism is just another moment in the trajectory of Westernisation of the country. For us, on the other hand, it is an indispensable element of the unity of the labouring population. It is the basis for the freedom of women, half the population of the country. It is the guarantee for equality, freedom, and democracy. We have learnt through experience how the bourgeoisie can abandon secularism when its interests dictate that course. We are still learning. The pseudo-secularism of the imperialists has not stopped them from using the taqfiri-sectarian murderers and shed fraternal blood in our region. Our people, on the contrary, should embrace secularism full-heartedly. Those who need to establish secularism are the socialists, the representatives of the labouring classes who have no interest in abusing religion and sectarianism.
If Turkey is to break the hold of the regime of despotism and autocracy, it is the working class that needs to be at the forefront. The bourgeoisie and imperialism, apt at using democracy to mask exploitation, throw sand in the wheels of the march towards freedom. All around the world, regimes with strong executives based on autocracy receive the support of the bourgeoisie, in the context of the crisis and upheaval in the world economy and the need to suppress the working class in this environment. Our class of bosses will not wish to part with this autocratic regime once it has been obtained. The claims of a return to the parliamentary system on the part of the opposition are lies. Even before the elections, the opposition were at loggerheads as to the calendar of the return to the parliamentary system. Just wait and see what happens if they win the elections! The defeat of Erdoğan, a slight possibility, will by no means open the floodgates of freedom on its own. We cannot defeat despotism by replacing one boss by another. The supremacy of the people cannot be established on the grounds of a parliament in chains. The reconstitution of the country will only be possible through a constituent assembly that has broken free of its chains, the ten per cent threshold, the prohibitions, the political, economic, and economic constraints.
Brothers and sisters, workers and toilers! 99 per cent of the population of the country!
It is not true that our problems have no solutions. But the path to the solution passes through the growing class consciousness of the workers and toilers at least to the level of the bosses and their conduct of acting with class consciousness, and organising independently of imperialism, and the bourgeoisie. Whoever you may have voted for, extend your hand to your brother or sister, the worker! Know thy class and organise the ranks!
Let us reconstitute Turkey with the scarred hands of the worker! Forward for an unchained Constituent Assembly!
Factories and banks to the state and the state to the workers!
Down with imperialism! Down with despotism! Long live freedom!
24 June 2018
The major economic organisation of the Turkish monopolistic bourgeoisie. It is mildly critical of Erdoğan.