Turkey: Report on the meeting organized by TİP on Building a Socialist Mass Party

Ecehan Balta

The Workers Party of Turkey (TIP) organized a public meeting in Ankara on April 19, 2022, on the issue of “Building a Socialist Mass Party”. 

Around 100 people participated in the meeting, almost half of whom were university students. Also, about half of the audience were non-TIP members.

Some background information

TİP entered the 2018 elections under the umbrella of HDP (People’s Democratic Party) and elected 2 MP’s. It subsequently increased its members of parliament to four, as 2 more MP’s joined the party. The militant opposition of TIP, in the streets but also in parliament, provoked an interest by wider layers and led to a rapid increase in members. From an organization of some hundred activists after their split from TKP (Communist Party of Turkey), TIP now has about 10,000 members. This growth naturally attracts the attention of other groups within the socialist Left. The potential revealed by the rise of TIP, and the possibility of building a socialist mass party in Turkey, has started to be talked about with more excitement than it has been for a long time. The meeting created an enthusiastic atmosphere in this context. 

Potentials and experiences for the socialist Left

There were a total of four speakers, two from Turkey and two from abroad. The meeting was moderated by Ecehan Balta.

Speakers from Cyprus and Greece were invited in order to present the experiences of the Left in their countries. Athina Kariati from New Internationalist Left (NEDA) in Cyprus, and Nikos Anastasiadis from Xekinima, Greece, took up the examples of AKEL and SYRIZA respectively.

Both speakers emphasized the inadequacy of reformist solutions, and the tragedy they led to. They spoke about the need to introduce policies that are concrete and in line with the demands of the working class. They elaborated on the structural weaknesses and problems, of both political and organizational character, of these formations. It was stated that the purpose of participating in the elections cannot be to legitimize the rotten political system that is already in question. The experiences of AKEL and SYRIZA showed how important it is to trust the class instincts of working people and to be ready to clash with the forces of capital in order to advance even the simplest reforms. 

Then, Can Soyer, as a TİP Assembly Member, and Sera Kadıgil, a spokesperson and MP of TİP,took the floor. 

In his speech, Can Soyer discussed the destruction brought about by the neoliberal accumulation model -both worldwide but also in Turkey- with total deregulation and banditry prevailing. He also emphasized the completely dysfunctional way politics work. These features necessitate strategic thinking on how to change this situation. He said that the large masses do not feel that they are represented by anybody. On the other hand, the socialist Left in most cases does not have the ability to represent anyone but itself. This antithesis reveals the central political problem in Turkey and also describes the basis for the need to build a socialist mass party. This is what TIP is trying to do today by opening its doors. 

TIP MP Sera Kadıgil talked about her transition from the so-called social democrat CHP (Republican People’s Party) to TIP. She stated that the parliament is a club for the rich, and in this context, TİP’s voicing of the real problems of society, especially poverty, made it a political focal point. In her candid and enthusiastic speech, Sera Kadıgil stated that TİP makes a real difference with its plain and popular language and non-hierarchical style in which it addresses large audiences.

Discussion

At the end of the meeting, most participants expressed their enthusiasm for TİP. There were also some who commented on its shortcomings in expressing more concrete demands. How TİP would act in the elections, who it would ally with, and its attitude towards changing society and the state machine were among the most common questions. In addition, there were questions asked on the details of AKEL’s policy on the national question and SYRIZA’s current position in Greece.

The organizing of such an event in Ankara, which has been under heavy pressure by the establishment since the coup in 2015, was very important. In this sense, the event was a breath of fresh air for everyone and was well appreciated as a good activity of TİP Ankara, as it is preparing for the demonstrations of May 1st.

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