An expert in political psychology has drawn the psychological profile of Turkey’s ruling and main opposition parties, while offering both some advice for improving how the public perceives them ahead of the general elections.
According to Professor Abdülkadir Çevik, founder of Turkey’s first academic center devoted to political psychology, the ruling party has successfully used the “psychology of victimization” as a political tool to gain votes, but its leader should focus more on promoting his vision for Turkey rather than fighting with critics.
The main opposition, meanwhile, needs to resolve its internal conflicts and present a unified front to the public, Çevik said. He added that the ongoing tension in the country due to the lack of communication and dialogue between the two key parties stems from intolerance to criticism.
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“I believe the way the political leaders were psychologically raised in their families is crucial in this situation,” Çevik told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview.
“Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a very charismatic leader possessing leadership qualities. He is very successful in communicating with the public and convincing people. But he has weaknesses,” Çevik said. “He should be tolerant of criticism. He gets angry when others don’t find him sincere when he believes he is being sincere and acting in a true manner.”
Though anger is part of Erdoğan’s nature, if he becomes more tolerant of criticism, no one can hold him back, said Çevik, who is also the chairman of the Political Psychology Association established in 2006.
“Leaders should not always be critical but should give hope to people. They should have visions for the future. Erdoğan, for instance, talks about his plans for 2023 to create an expectation about the future among the public,” he said. “The main opposition leader [Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu] should do the same instead of engaging himself in constant criticism.”
‘CHP is scattered’
Kılıçdaroğlu’s Republican People’s Party, or CHP, presents an instable and inconsistent image to the public because of the different voices coming from the party, Çevik said, adding that this harms public confidence in the main opposition.
“Our society is not accustomed to hearing different voices from one party. We come from imperialism and a patriarchal culture. The idiom ‘Whatever happens in a family remains within a family’ is valid for our society,” Çevik said.
“Different voices should thus first be discussed within the CHP itself and a compromise should be reached. Different voices create concern among the public. The CHP leader should bring the party together,” he added.
Çevik also suggested the CHP and other parties from that end of the political spectrum consider revamping some of their policies to better appeal to voters.
“If 60 percent of voters in a country are conservative, it should be admitted that the structure of the society is conservative. The leftist parties have thus far seen around 40 percent at the most. The votes of the right-leaning parties have always been more,” he said. “If the left parties want to increase their votes, they should undergo a change in line with the public demands.”
‘Psychology of victimization’
Professor Çevik’s newly established political-psychology center at Ankara University is Turkey’s only academic center dedicated to employing the discipline’s methodology to examine the relationship between politics and psychology, with a focus on analyzing and resolving conflicts among large ethnic, religious or political ideological groups, both domestically and internationally.
Though the discipline became familiar to the Turkish public only recently, when the government employed well-known political-psychology expert Vamık Volkan to help solve the Kurdish question, Çevik headed a similar center at the Prime Ministry between 1992 and 1997 to research the psychological factors behind the terror problem.
In addition to the terror problem, the center at Ankara University plans to analyze neighboring countries’ perceptions of Turkey with the aim of providing input to government studies on various topics.
In his comments on the psychological dynamics of Turkish politics and society, Çevik said the “psychology of victimization” played a major role in the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, winning power in 2002.
“The psychology of victimization gains votes for the political parties and the AKP currently makes use of it in the most successful way,” Çevik told the Daily News.
“Both Turkish society, which has itself faced many unjust treatments in its history, including military coups, and its members eventually identify their social and individual grievances in their own families with those of the political parties, coming to the conclusion that [one party is] ‘the party that thinks and feels like me,’” he said.
“Turkish society can’t give up its habits. The uncertainty of the unknown discourages and frightens [it from voting for different parties.] Society didn’t know the AKP in 2002 but it came to power thanks to the psychology of victimization it demonstrated,” Çevik said.
“Prime Minister Erdoğan did the same on the headscarf issue and during the referendum period, in which he recalled that he was jailed during the coup era and brought those who were executed during the coup era to the agenda [to garner votes from the coup victims].”
Source : Hurriyet Daily News