Türkiye has recently been experiencing a new era in politics since the May 2023 elections. The election results triggered changes in the previous status quo and influenced the establishment of different political conditions and collaborations. In the May 2023 elections, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with his Justice and Development Party (AKP), and the Table of Six consisting of six parties with distinct ideologies in politics displayed themselves in front of the public by being the two main sides in the election. Despite the support the Table of Six and their candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu received, Erdoğan and his party, AKP ended the elections in triumph and decomposed these 6 parties including, People’s Republican Party (CHP), Saadet Party, IYI Party, DEVA Party, Gelecek Party, and Democrat Party.
Gültekin Uysal, who is the general president of the Democrat Party, had been one of the major components of this political collaboration via his ideas, interviews, and meetings similar to the other 5 leaders of the Table of Six. We, as The Istanbul Chronicle, asked him multiple questions him for the purpose of identifying the current situation in Türkiye, the mistakes that were made during the election process by the Nation Alliance, and how they can be compensated.
What do you think about the status quo of the country?
Türkiye has been going through systematic collapses in numerous fields, and unfortunately, when it is compared to the past, Türkiye is much further behind in terms of institutional andconstitutional order, functioning democracy, and functioning legal order standards. Furthermore, there is a 20-year rule that has gradually transformed into a party state. The costs of these circumstances are primarily the economy, Türkiye’s inability to meet its potential, inadequate economic performance due to wrong decisions, and with people who bear this cost. In that respect, many dynamics change externally, internally, regionally, and internationally. Türkiye has been going through systematic collapses in numerous fields. Additionally, Türkiye has spent the last 20 years harmonizing its foreign policy in a way to utilize that potential and become a safe haven for itself in a risky region, especially in the Gulf, from the Far East to East Asia, Africa and Russia, and a Center of Attraction economically. But the discussions in this turbulent political order, as if we were going to take over the state, and implement a demolition engineering project brought Türkiye to this point.
How will the future of our country be shaped in the following years, what might happen in politics, the economy, and society?
Despite all the obstacles, we have a historical march. Türkiye has a background that can ensure democracy, freedom, and security. Despite the advantages it has in its geography, it may also face different risks and challenges from time to time. Population is a very important power, but especially when we look at aging countries, economies that have increased their productivity and automation, especially Artificial Intelligence, are closing this gap, but Türkiye has a 20-year window of opportunity between 2000 and 2038, the period when its active population is higher. We are in 2023. We have certain things ahead of us. There is a period. During this period, Türkiye should evaluate it very well with appropriate strategies and priorities. It has the opportunity to differentiate itself in a positive way both in its region and among the developing economies. It is about whether it should be brought together in a political program with a political mind that can understand this.
As you know, we have entered the 100th year of our Turkish Republic. In your opinion, will the new generations be able to maintain Atatürk’s (and their ancestors who had previously fought for Türkiye) mission?
They will definitely continue to be able to maintain Atatürk’s path. Some conjectural discussions try to distort this history, especially the political mentality from which the government draws attention. Unfortunately, even though it erodes from time to time at these points, I believe that our line of modernization has largely progressed in the right direction in the 100-year-old Republic. And this is an irreversible line, in the end, in that respect, it continues today. We see with great pride that, despite all the negative impositions, negative choices, and the government's choices, we come from the broad masses, after the War of Independence, after the Republic, then a Türkiye with many churches, a life and development Türkiye, a Türkiye that is integrated with the world, our young people claim to be the flag bearer of this story. We have seen this in the centennial year. We intended to celebrate with glory and honor, but I believe that our nation understands the value of certain values and institutions, especially when they are about to lose them due to the erosion they are subjected to, especially the Republic and democracy. We can see this on the occasion of October 29 and on other days as well, which is pleasing.
What do you advise the younger generations?
We have to restructure the population and make it equipped to compete with the world. In this respect, the most important leverage is education. Despite all the handicaps, education, social mobilization and strengthening of social harmony are very important in ensuring social peace. I believe that there are more opportunities today compared to the past. With technological developments, the internet, and social channels, there are many ways to access different information, resources, and opportunities. Of course, there are difficulties. Especially in the economic situation we have experienced in recent years. In this sense, the loss of income in their free time does not allow many of our young people to build their potential, but despite all this, we must not give up the struggle, of course, the issue of savings is our youth, at the center of everything, with their families, I think we must close this gap institutionally with our education system.
As a politician, what do you offer citizens, why should they vote for you?
We are in a period where Türkiye’s politics has been turned upside down in the last 20 years, and our line is a safe haven. We know what to do, as well as what not to do, and have revealed it with its line, mentality, actions and framework. We see democracy in this country as the National Security umbrella of this country with custody of the law. In that respect, every political formation in Türkiye has a cost to the country to govern. We think that we represent the mind that can build the country's potential with the least side cost. We have different opinions on many different policies, but there is a narrow corridor that Türkiye enters, and that is identity politics. Therefore, as the Democratic Party, the most important thing we aspire to and aim for is to move Türkiye into a positive climate and a period of positive politics.
Is Türkiye a democratic country? Is the government capable of administrating the country democratically?
Sadly, when we examine it using widely acknowledged criteria, we find that a lot of barriers have disappeared and a lot of light has been cast on it, including the voice procedures that ought to occur under the prevailing protection of our democratic institutions. Türkiye’s current political system is known as elective authoritarianism in political science. We do not have a weak democratic standard in that regard.
There is a government that has adopted democracy as a conjectural program and an opposition ideology. There have been statements by Mr. Erdoğan in the past that showed his vistas and approach to democracy. According to his discourses, he and his mentality believes in the idea of democracy in this country. They have no goal other than continuing to acknowledge a person and his sadness. It is obvious where they have come after 20 years of comfort, and we cannot expect a government that has reached many friendships and has reached many unadorned people to operate democracy and legal principles, because when democratic rules and law operate, it will have a negative cost to them.
Why do you think the “Table of Six” wasn’t successful at overthrowing the administration of Erdoğan?
Türkiye held this election under limited democratic conditions. There is a government that puts all the power of the state, the financial power, the power of the law enforcement on one side of the scales in political competition. It was an election process in which we had to defeat the referee. Some external and internal psychological barriers that Türkiye is in. We stayed in a period where we were manipulated.
Of course, due to the identity politics that Türkiye has not been able to solve, which I have just underlined, we have not been able to reflect the deep poverty experienced in Türkiye, which is manipulated by the government, to large enough masses, and beyond that, re-election on the one hand, and the presidential election on the other hand, will be successful in both elections despite all the negativities. There was a climate, we had deficiencies in managing the process, and beyond that, tactical mistakes were made to ensure a large majority in the parliament in the general election. We had to try different formulas, taking into account the voter mobility between the parties, social boundaries, and regional sensitivities, and ultimately we could not manage it in a way that would maximize the overall impact.
What are your current plans in order to achieve a better "Türkiye", what are you and your party have been doing to achieve this aim?
Türkiye needs a political and social, climate change. This climate change, which I tried to underline while answering your previous question, needs a political program that will bring it together with this potential. It needs a political staff. Subsequently, when the shadow of organized evil is lifted from the country, our people are working with all their strength to create added value for Türkiye. They have done a great job. We need to make correct plans. since we are in a period where the pace of change is increasing. In this sense, I see that Türkiye can take its place with a policy that suits its potential, its size and its power capacity. I attach great importance to democracy, legal order, opportunities and order.
In the past, is there something you think that you have done wrong? If there is, how would you fix it?
Politics is the administration of a multi-variable process. This multi-variable equation ought to be defined accurately. From time to time, it provides people with opportunities to utilize. Moreover, we came across a period when a leading government was carrying out many operations in the political field together with the state power. When we put it that way, I do not think that we made a strategic mistake in our basic decisions, but there isn’t anything called “ultimate best”. There is always a better of the best, there are greater successes. We have always adopted a reasonable and responsible attitude during the struggles for democracy under adverse conditions to expand the common benefit, and we will continue this.