Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Turkey - Corruption Scandals Rock the Country

Some of us are looking at Turkey's Justice Party (AK) for inspirations in winning the hearts of voters. Even now in PAS, there is a group called - Erdogan faction who is allegedly inclined to Anwar more than PAS President.

Politicians are mostly from the same breed, except few like Nik Aziz. The rest, in whatever colours, are going all out for power because that's politics all about.

Power can corrupt politicians, and power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely
We have high hopes to our PR politicians as almost all BN politicians and leaders are tainted with corruptions in whatever names they call corruptions (like money politics or duit kopi)



People familiar with Turkish politics would know dozens of individuals who have made money under different governments - from socialist left to Islamist right. A decade ago they looked and dressed like any European. Now that returning to "Islamic roots" is in fashion, they sport designer stubbles and wear collarless shirts.



Turkey: Trouble at home, gains abroad


Whiter than white! This is the slogan under which the Justice and Development Party has won two successive general elections, something rare in the history of the Turkish republic. The claim comes from the party's acronym AK, which is Turkish for white, and is meant to underline its claim of fighting "the black clouds of corruption" that have hung over the country's politics for decades.

And yet, allegations of corruptions may be developing into the Achilles' heel of the governing AK Party. Two of Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan's close relatives are already under investigation on a range of charges linked to corrupt practices. And dozens of party and government officials are linked with fraud scandals that have rocked the country in the past few weeks.

The result is the sharpest drop in public support that the AKP has experienced since its emergence less than a decade ago. According to the most recent opinion polls, support for the party now stands at around 41 per cent, a fall of more than seven per cent since the last general election.

More ominously for the AKP, the two main opposition groups, the People's Republican Party (CHP), a social-democratic outfit, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a proto-fascist coalition, together garner almost as much support as the AKP.

The Turks appear to be particularly angry with AKP because of its implicit claim that its Islamic roots gave it an ethical bearing rare in the political world. AKP was supposed to be the home of pious politicians who see themselves as servants of the people and regard government as a sacerdotal pursuit.

That the AKP should become involved in corruption scandals should surprise no one. Political parties need money to run their electoral machines and keep their militants deployed wherever needed. Unless directly financed by the government, political parties must find their own sources of income.

People familiar with Turkish politics would know dozens of individuals who have made money under different governments - from socialist left to Islamist right. A decade ago they looked and dressed like any European. Now that returning to "Islamic roots" is in fashion, they sport designer stubbles and wear collarless shirts.

Transformation
Turkey has introduced a massive privatisation programme, as part of a strategy to join the European Union. This has led to the transformation of the Turkish economy into a market-based system of free enterprise and in turn provided ample opportunity for greasing many paws. Western companies trying to cash in on Turkish privatisation have also done their bit in encouraging and spreading questionable deals and practices.

The AKP is governing with the support of some 47 per cent of the electorate, as expressed in the last general election. This means governing with an extra dose of caution and prudence, especially when it comes to introducing major reforms. Any further fall in support for AKP is bound to undermine the authority it needs to introduce changes needed to prepare Turkey for its European adventure.

The AKP is losing domestic support at a time when it is developing a potentially constructive foreign policy.

Summed up in one phrase, "no enemies", Turkey's foreign policy is designed to develop correct, and when possible close and friendly relations with all countries. That philosophy has enabled Turkey to remain the United States' closest ally in the Muslim world while emerging as the number-one trading partner of the Islamic Republic in Iran.

As one of the region's most stable nations, Turkey could and should play a leading role in the dangerous transition from Pax Americana to an as yet unknown system of collective security. At present, it is the only regional power capable of talking to all countries and benefiting from a positive relationship from all sides. It would be a pity if corruption scandals plunged Turkey into a domestic crisis that would undermine its ability to pursue its new and positive foreign policy.

Iranian author Amir Taheri is based in Europe.

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