A Fundamental ConflictComparing political world viewsThe main political conflicts we are facing result from conflicting world views and programs - a very consequential conflict issue; since a change from integrative views to disintegrative ideas of pure power implies far-reaching welfare losses and a steeply rising risk of war. How do Donald Trump, Recep T. Erdogan, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte see the world? Do they individually operate with consistent programs?
IPAInstitute for Political AnalysisProf. Dr. Volker von Prittwitz
Make Amerika Great Again - what does this motto mean?In his life, Donald Trump has adopted diverse political positions - near to democrats as well as near to republicans. Indeed, sofar we know from biographies and personal reports, Trump has been sozialized in an attitude of becoming the absolute winner in any context - turning into a kind of power addiction. According to this attitude, Trump does not respect given laws and even obvious facts as given and committing for him. Instead, he operates in a world of absolute power-seeking and power-using where no binding laws and facts exist.
Recep T. Erdoğan/Turkey
Combined with influences by some persons of his entourage, particularly the right-wing extremist Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump has strictly favored and emphasized ideas of disintegration such as racist concepts, respectless concepts of women, and the stop of open economic exchange. Beyond, he is working on dissolving the given political system of checks and balances in the USA up to a fundamental subduing of free press and judicial courts - a fundamental threat of still existing elements of democracy in the USA.
Also Recep T. Erdogan, Turkish president, proclaimes a great change to come for Turkey. A background for this proclamation is obviously his religious socilization: The young Erdoğan was nicknamed Quran-nightinggale because of his exceptional islamic religiosity. In April 1998, he cited a passage of a religious poem that is attributed to Ziya Gökalp: Democracy is only the train we get on until we have reached our objective. The mosques are our barracks, the minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, and the believers our soldiers. Wikipedia: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recep_Tayyip_Erdo%C4%9FanWhile his governmental leadership (since 2003) started with years of democratization and reconciliation with the Kurds, at latest since 2010
he showed more and more autocratic behavior including massive corruption. Erdogan’s presidency palace (Ak Saray) can be considered a symbol: A complex of about 1.000 rooms, built in a nature conservation zone although several courts up to the Turkisch supreme court had strictly prohibited the building.After the election of 2014 with distinct successes for the opposition, Erdogan enforced again the civil war against the Kurds. Hence already before the failed military putsch in July 2016, basic freedoms such as press freedom, freedom of demonstration, even the institution of free deputies were suffering. With the failed military coup and the coming plebiscite about the so-called presidency-system, Erdogan is displaying his programm of getting full autocracy and approaching a new Erdoganic Empire.
Also the German chancellor Angela Merkel has been growing up in an autocratic environment, both as daughter of a pastor and as a child of German Democratic Republic. Although she did not become member of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) and she focussed on natural sciences (physics, chemical physics) in her study and job, she supported the ruling youth organization of the GDR (FDJ), responsible for agitation und propaganda in her institute.As could be seen in her later political career, she was able to learn fast on how to get success in a democratic, partly chaotic environment. For many years her outstanding political feature was to have no substantial policy objectives
simply overtaking and occupying currently majoritarian positions. In the last years, however, she developed a certain political standing in favor of law-based democracy and a relatively open refugee and migration policy. Nevertheless pragmatic deals with powerful actors - in order to win a supreme position or at least to minimize reputational losses - still mark her basic way of seeing and handling politics.
Mark Rutte steams from a Christian family and belongs to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. Since 1988 in top positions of the liberal youth organization and since 2006 leader of the Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), he has become prime minister of the Netherlands two times (2010 and 2012) and has good chances for doing so a third time in 2017.In earlier years, Rutte’s political orientation has been featured as social-liberal; meanwhile he is usually characterized as liberal-conservative. Rutte’s current program can be summed up in four core points:
•Liberal in economic and political terms;•Pro-European (strictly against Wilder’s Nexit-program),•Demanding migrants to adapt to normalityin the Netherlands (be normal or go away!)•Emphasizing national sovereignty of the Netherlands towards Erdogan’s attacks. Differently from Merkel, Rutte mixes also sharp tones to Islamists and problem-immigrants into his complaisance. And he blantly confronts Erdogan’s brazen attacks. Following Rutte, Europe has to be protected both from the right wing actors and from the islamists.
Comparison and Conflict AnalysisOnly if the people including all minorities dispose at equal civil and political rights, democracy is possible (The logic of democracy). Facing worldwide communication, global economic exchange, global ecological challenges, and global streams of migration, this institutional challenge requires thinking in terms of multi-level citizenship: National sovereignty, sub-national governance levels, and universally protected human rights have to be combined. Measured by these criterions, both Donald Trump and Recep T. Erdogan make themselves out to be distinct anti-democrats. Since they tend to accept democratic procedures only insofar as they are forced to do so, they do not accept multi-level structures, and, above all, they strive for becoming absolute autocrats. Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, in contrast, can be considered to be democrats. Indeed, Merkel clearly prefers deals among powerful actors towards public decisions, and she still tends to sit out difficult situations instead of making policies for strengthening democracy. Insofar she shares responsibility for the increasing power of anti-democratic forces during the last decade.
Rutte clearly fights for freedom and democracy. Indeed, the challenge of multi-level citizenship (including both national sovereignty and strictly protected human rights) has not completely processed by him - no exception among current politicians; since the combined challenge of democracy and multi-level citizenship is quite new.Against that background, current conflicts such as the conflict between Erdogan at the one hand and Rutte and Merkel at the other hand can be well understood: Erdogan’s claim of being a democratic leader, is obviously not consistent: He does not respect civil and political rights of minorities in Turkey; he does not consider himself bound to legal constrictions (bound governance), and he does not communicate in ways of reciprocal trustworthiness and peaceful interaction. Finally, he does not respect the national sovereignties of European countries. Also the conflict between Trump and the US press, state courts and a growing civility movement at the other hand is a fundamental one. All democratic actors in the USA and outside of the USA - such as Angela Merkel - have to act consciously and energetically in any contact with this kind of actors.