The birth of a new movement against Erdoğan?

After crossing 450 kilometres the "March for Justice" reached Istanbul on the weekend. An estimated 1.6 to 2 million people attended the closing rally at which Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition party CHP, announced that this was just the beginning of a new movement. Journalists reflect on what the Turkish opposition can hope to achieve.

Open/close all quotes
Diken (TR) /

The march has united people in Turkey

The march has overcome rifts and fostered a sense of unity in many areas of society, Diken is convinced:

“It became clear that the opposition can take action despite the oppression and restrictions. ... This march showed us that after all it isn't all that difficult to reach out to all society and mobilise it, to unite it behind a sentiment. It showed us how much attention a cause can attract when it's free of discriminating slogans, symbols, and terms. It showed us that different groups that have had enough of discrimination and ideological, religious and confessional quarrelling can come together in the name of a common cause.”

La Stampa (IT) /

The palace remains silent

La Stampa sees the "March for Justice" as an unexpected success:

“Opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu did it. Not only did he march for 25 days across 450 kilometres under the banner of 'justice' but thousands of people followed him along the way. Thus, against all expectations the march became a success. The Ghandi of Turkish politics, as the local media have dubbed him because of his peaceableness, ended his march in the Asian part of Istanbul. Huge crowds of people gathered there. However this time they didn't come together to support Erdoğan as they usually do, but to oppose him. … From Erdoğan, from the 'palace', only silence for now. According to many this is a sign of great unease.”

Der Standard (AT) /

It's still possible to walk around freely

Der Standard, by contrast, believes that the march won't change anything for the time being:

“The Turkish president's authoritarian rule now seems so cemented that Kılıçdaroğlu's 'justice march' has come to nothing: the leader of the biggest opposition party showed that he can still walk around freely in Erdoğans Turkey regardless of the wind or weather, and even holding up a little sign. But that's it. ... At least half of all Turks still support their president's authoritarian leadership. They don't have any problems with Tayyip Erdoğan's style - or with his way of deciding which opinions people are allowed to have and which they are not.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Erdoğan would do better to listen

The business paper Handelsblatt urges Erdoğan to take the protest seriously:

“Otherwise he may have to contend with what, as an all-powerful president, he desperately wants to avoid: a genuine opposition. … For it is by no means only supporters of the biggest opposition party CHP, whose leader initiated the march, that have joined the protest. Members of the families of soldiers who have fallen in the widely supported fight against the PKK are also marching, as well as lawyers wanting to draw attention to the pitiful state of the justice system. … If Erdoğan listened to the concerns of these groups - even if only for tactical reasons - he would have a chance to retain his majority and even strengthen it.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Hand in hand with putchists and terrorists

The opposition leader is discrediting himself with his march for justice, the pro-government paper Yeni Şafak rails:

“Kılıçdaroğlu claims he was against the coup, but at the same time he calls the decisions taken by the state and the judiciary to remove putchists from the state apparatus 'unjust'. And as if that wasn't already a major contradiction he's now staging a protest march from Ankara to Istanbul. ... And he's not alone. Kılıçdaroğlu is marching hand in hand with Gülen terrorists and the PKK - and demanding justice! ... His behaviour will not be remembered well.”

Star (TR) /

March was all about party tactics

For the pro-government daily Star the sole aim of the protest march is to set up CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as a Turkish Gandhi:

“The CHP marched under the slogan 'We promote justice', but its march is not a march of the whole population. It was a march for the friends of the CHP, the supporters of the Gülen terrorist organisation, Erdoğan's enemies and the opponents of the AKP. This is why this long march of the CHP isn't able to generate a broad wave of protest among the people. It can only serve to activate the CHP's cadres. Its main purpose is perhaps to consolidate Kılıçdaroğlu's candidacy at the upcoming party congress and ensure his success. Look at the photo of the protest march. Kılıçdaroğlu is walking several metres ahead of his MPs. This march was organised to create the image of a Kemal Gandhi.”

T24 (TR) /

CHP to blame for its own misfortune

Journalist Hasan Cemal condemns Berberoğlu's arrest on T24, but stresses that the CHP itself backed Erdoğan's proposal to lift the MP's parliamentary immunity:

“Since [the coup attempt on] July 15, which was in fact a 'godsend' for it, the Erdoğan government has gradually taken over all the bastions of Turkish democracy and justice and imposed a dictatorship on the country. It's true: the sentence passed down on Enis Berberoğlu is the officialisation of fascism. Even a member of parliament who should enjoy immunity can suddenly find himself sentenced to 24 years behind bars. ... The CHP's major sin was to help pave the way for this development. ... Because it cooperated with Erdoğan, or at least tacitly condoned his plans.”