SUNDAY'S general election in Turkey, a member of NATO, produced a terrible swing to the right. The fascist National Action Party doubled its share of the vote to about 19 percent, putting it in second place. It will now be represented in the new parliament and could be in the coalition government which will eventually be formed.
The fascists gained votes at the expense of the two Tory parties, the Motherland Party and the True Path Party, which each got about 13 percent of votes. The Islamist Virtue Party also lost votes, polling about 15 percent. The highest share of the vote, over 21 percent, went to the Democratic Left Party of caretaker prime minister Bulent Ecevit.
The Democratic Left is a Labour type party, but ran an intensely nationalistic campaign. Ecevit has whipped up Turkish nationalism since the capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan two months ago. Ocalan's arrest has sparked a wave of national chauvinism against the Kurdish people in the south east of Turkey who face systematic persecution at the hands of the Turkish state. The doubling of the fascist vote is a serious threat. The National Action Party has had a core of street fighters for many years. It also has supporters in the police and judiciary.
However, the fascists are still far from being able to dominate a government themselves or to liquidate all the parties of the left, trade unions and community groups. They picked up votes as the most consistent nationalists. Most of those who voted for them do not want to see a Hitler style regime. For example, workers at six state owned paper mills occupied and stopped them from closing a few months ago. Some 20 percent of the workers had voted for the fascists. But they still struck and welcomed solidarity visits from members of the Kurdish HADEP party, which the fascist leaders have sworn to destroy.
"The left can drive a wedge between the fascist hard core and the voters they have picked up," a socialist in Turkey told Socialist Worker. "That requires mass anti-fascist activity which unites the left and trade unionists. The whole left needs to understand the threat, but must not be paralysed by it. The Turkish working class has not been battered into submission. If the left fights back, we can turn the tide."
TV NEWS programmes this week were reporting the queen's visit to South Korea. But while the likes of the BBC's Jenny Bond gushed over staged royal events in the country, they ignored far more important stories in South Korea.
The unofficial KCTU union federation was set to call protest strikes at the end of this week over rising job losses. Over 10,000 workers and students attended a mass KCTU rally three weeks ago. Economic crisis is still destroying the lives of workers in what was once the strongest Asian Tiger economy, despite the recovery of share prices, which has benefited the rich.
Members of the International Socialists of South Korea sold out of 700 copies of their paper at the rally. But the South Korean state is trying to clamp down hard on socialists to prevent them discussing their ideas with workers. Kim Nak-joon, a 24 year old student at Chosun University, was arrested by the security police after the rally and charged with selling socialist papers. Two weeks later Chun Ji-yoon was arrested. His only "crime" was writing for a socialist paper and possessing a book which is freely available in bookshops and libraries in Britain, Socialists and the Trade Unions by Alex Callinicos.
Everyone should demand the charges are dropped and back the campaign for freedom of speech in South Korea.