Turkey: Turkish capitalism teeters on the brink

IN RECENT weeks Turkish politics has looked like a TV soap, you’d never know who would be in which party the following day.

The Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, is coming under strong pressure to resign. His Democratic Left Party (DSP) lost 46 MPs out of 128 in just five days with nine more forming an internal opposition group. This makes the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) the biggest party in the ruling coalition.

Turkey’s Parliament is being recalled for 1 September, paving the way for early elections. According to opinion polls, Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party would become the largest party. The last time a pro-Islamic party was in government the military ousted them.

According to the capitalist press this crisis is mainly caused by the illness of Ecevit and the role of his wife as the real leader of the country and the DSP. However, the main reason for this crisis is the turbulent economic situation in the country.

IMF dictat

Turkey was one of those countries, together with Argentina, which was very hard hit by an economic slump in 2001.

And with rampant inflation, this slump has led to serious social problems in Turkish society. Typically, four or five "well paid" workers have to share houses because they cannot pay the rent for a house of their own.

The establishment parties are seen as being responsible for the crisis. They meekly follow the orders given by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to Turkish economists the country needs to realise at least $4 billion-$5 billion from privatisations. The country furthermore has a huge outstanding foreign debt.

The government today is only following what’s being decided by the IMF which is not in the interests of a majority of the people, but only that of the big banks and multinationals. Ordinary people are becoming more and more alienated from the government and traditional parties. This even led to a warning issued by the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston: "Given the dramatically negative picture that emerged from the most recent opinion polls, it seems likely that the post-election make-up of parliament will be a mess that will rule out tidy market-friendly coalitions and fiscal prudence."

That is probably why the capitalists are now counting on the new party of former minister Isma•l Cem. This party is promoted as an alternative for the DSP, as it is clear that Cem’s party is pro-European Union (EU), pro-IMF, pro-privatisations, etc. It was these capitalist policies, imposed by ministers like Cem, that led to the present crisis.

Turkey has always been a key ally for US-imperialism but an unstable situation in Turkey makes a military intervention in Iraq more difficult.

The recent developments in Turkey clearly show the bankruptcy of the capitalist parties. The far-right MHP tries to present itself as different by opposing the EU. This could bring this party temporarily in a stronger position, with its strong position mainly caused by the weakness of the other parties. The racist MHP however has no solutions for the working class.

The working class will have to play a central role in fighting the bankrupt capitalist system in Turkey. They cannot trust the established politicians but will have to build their own political voice in the form of a new mass workers’ party, which could be formed through the fights against the consequences of the economic crisis. Such a party wouldn’t accept the orders of the IMF but would organise a planned economy in the interest of a majority of the people.

As Turkish history has shown, building a genuine mass workers’ party able to take power is not an abstract issue but a necessity to avoid situations like the bloody military regime following the defeats after the workers’ movements in the 1970s.

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July 2002