Turkey's Radical Right and the Kurdish Issue: The MHP's Reaction to the "Democratic Opening" by ProQuest


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									Turkey’s Radical Right and the
Kurdish Issue: The MHP’s Reaction
to the “Democratic Opening”
                                                                                     ÖDÜL CELEP*


Turkey’s current government’s
‘democratic opening’ project has led
to a series of political discussions
regarding the cause and resolve
of the Kurdish issue. One major
                                            O         ne of the most controversial poli-
                                                      cies of the current government in
                                        Turkey has been the ‘democratic opening’ proj-
consequence of this debate has been
                                        ect. This novel project has also been referred to
the polarization of opinion between     as the ‘Kurdish opening’ or the ‘national unity
conservatives, represented by the       project.’ The main purpose of this project was
ruling Justice and Development          to normalize the long-standing Kurdish issue,
Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi,
AKP) and nationalists, represented      resolve it through civilian means, and provide
by the Nationalist Action Party         a rapprochement between the Turkish state
(Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP).      and the non-conformist Kurdish population
This study elaborates on the major
                                        in Turkey. Even though the opening theoreti-
reasons for MHP’s opposition to
AKP on the ‘democratic opening.’        cally applies to other groups, such as the non-
In doing so, the study examines the     Muslims and Romanis, it was obvious from the
historical, ideological distinctions    beginning that the major target group was the
between the two parties and their
perception of ethnic and linguistic     Kurds. Above all, the opening aimed to dis-
differences in Turkish society. AKP     arm and disband the Kurdistan Workers’ Party
comes from a political tradition        (PKK),1 which the Turkish state has perceived
that has been relatively more
                                        as a terrorist organization.
accommodating towards such
differences. On the contrary, MHP
                                           In fact, the content of the democratic open-
has roots in an ethno-nationalist
and mono-culturalist ideology,          ing came well after the government started to
which can be observed in its denial     use this term in the summer of 2009. The Jus-
of the identity component of the
Kurdish issue.

                                        * Department of International Relations, Işık University,

Insight Turkey Vol. 12 / No. 2 / 2010
pp. 125-142                                                                                         125

 One of the potential positive                    tice and Development Party (Adalet ve
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