The AKP’s victory in the constitutional referendum in Turkey is no step towards popular rule
The passage of the constitutional reform in Turkey with nearly 60% of the votes in favor is a clear defeat for the faction of the Turkish capitalists who have intensive links to the Turkish military and state apparatus, and especially for this apparatus itself. It has to accept some limitations of its autonomy.
This restriction of the freedom of the military and state apparatus is in no way a great „democratization“, as Prime Minister Erdoğan repeats again and again like a broken record. EU imperialism also presents it this way. The EU’s Commissioner for Enlargement and the German Foreign Minister both called the result of the referendum an important step towards joining the EU. But for European capital, it is not about better conditions for the population of Turkey, but about better possibilities for investment in the Turkish market. For them, the governing party AKP with its policy of liberalization always deserved support.
The apparatus’ loss of autonomy means, in the first place, a gain for Erdoğan’s AKP, which with its majority in parliament holds the decisive positions. The AKP’s strength is in large part based on the support of the strongest group of Turkish capital. This „AKP faction“ of the Turkish capitalists regards the relatively uncontrolled apparatus (which of course had its use for them historically) by now as an unpleasant and inefficient factor. Erdoğans statement that a presidial system would be good for Turkey shows that the process of which the constitutional reform is part, is in no way a project of democratization but rather a project to shift the power relations within the state. The possibility of punishing the coup generals and the improvements which are now written in the constitution are still a long way from reality. In the 60s, the constitution of Turkey guaranteed the right to strike – in reality, of course, it did not exist at all and the workers’ movement needed to impose its right to strike itself.
A big part of the Turkish bourgeoisie and its agency, the economically liberal AKP, will now feel strengthened and will immediately continue their policy of attacks on the rights, wages and living conditions of the working population. The defense against these measures must be organized and it must also be extended to grievances which have existed for a long time. The colleagues of TEKEL, as shining example, did not tolerate the attack of the ruling classes and waged a struggle. Colleagues of other businesses are also defending themselves against worsening conditions. If these struggles remain isolated, it will be much easier for the bosses to impose their will. That is why it is necessary for us to fight together.
In this process, the promises of the ruling classes can be used. The unionization of the public sector workers (with the exception of the police) has to be carried out more than ever. Because this is one thing that is now officially allowed. To overcome the remaining prohibition to strike is one of the tasks that follows from this. The formation of committees for taking evidence and prosecuting the coup criminals is now on the agenda. This important task, which Erdoğan presented as an aim of the constitutional reform, cannot possibly be left to the courts that are creations of the coup generals and still have numerous connections to the criminals themselves. Therefore these committees must be composed of workers and the working rural population of different ethnic groups and cultures, so that an independent prosecution would be possible.
After the constitutional reform, the AKP will continue to work towards increasing the government’s (and not the people’s!) control of the repressive apparatus. The promises that were made were only a means to beat the Kemalist faction in the internal power struggle. All factions of capital carry out policies against the working class. Now a mass movement has to be built up to force the government to implement the handful of promises and to block its plans to increase the wealth of the capitalists at the expense of the workers! The big success of the boycott campaign in the Kurdish regions, where the the big majority of people (despite the threat of punishment) refused to vote, shows that there is a possibility to democratize Turkey – that is: a possibility that the population wrests the power from the the powerful in the state an in the executive offices of the companies and decides on its future itself.
Statement by the Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO), October 5, 2010, based on a draft by Victor Jalava