Sunday, September 13, 2015

Turkey's Ruling Party Has Exhausted Its Own Existence*

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, the AKP, will convene its fifth Grand Congress this Saturday, where members will elect its leader and the party will launch its campaign for the upcoming snap elections on November 1.

In the past, these congresses were upbeat and optimistic, a sign of the party’s continued success at the polls; the last Grand Congress was in 2012, a year after the 2011 elections when Turkey’s charismatic prime minister, now the nation’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, garnered almost 50 percent of the vote, ushering in a “New Turkey.”

However, in the elections last June, under its new party leader and prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, the AKP was dealt a major blow: after a 13-year run as the sole party in power, it lost its parliamentary majority, shattering a psychological barrier of invincibility.

Now there is little to celebrate. The party is planning to launch its campaign for the upcoming elections after Davutoglu failed to form a coalition government with any of the three parties in parliament. They staunchly opposed Erdogan’s demands for extended presidential powers. In fact, even if Davutoglu is, as is likely, re-elected as the AKP’s leader this weekend, the party faces an uphill battle, with much of the electorate tired of the AKP forfeiting all of its values for one man, Erdogan.  

Just as detrimental to the party’s image is the breakdown of the peace process between the Turkish state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. For years, despite the Gezi Park protests and wide-scale corruption, the AKP could always fall back on the fact that it was taking serious steps to end the decades-old conflict that has taken the lives of tens of thousands of Turkish citizens.

But with the renewal of violence in July, at least 100 soldiers and policemen have been killed, including 16 soldiers who were slain this past Sunday in the deadliest PKK attack in years. The chaos has extended to civilians, with AKP supporters attacking the offices of major newspaper Hurriyet with sticks and stones, accusing it of misquoting the president and implying that he was trying to gain political capital from Sunday’s attack. 

Even worse, over the past few days, numerous Kurds have been randomly attacked by Turkish nationalists, headquarters of the mostly Kurdish leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party, the HDP, have been vandalized, some even burned to the ground, and military curfews are becoming the norm in some of the southeastern cities. In addition, there are casualties among Kurdish civilians.

The days of hope have been buried with the widespread belief that Erdogan instigated the renewed violence in order to delegitimize the HDP and ensure the AKP’s stability and electoral support. The question of whether the lives of soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians could have been spared by doing its utmost to keep the peace process on track will forever loom over the AKP.

If things were not bad enough, Turkey is facing an increasingly sluggish economy, with the Turkish lira in decline, hitting a new low of three liras to the dollar. While AKP pundits might try to put a positive spin on the weak lira, the truth is that this was not a calculated move on behalf of Turkey’s Central Bank, or the Finance Ministry, but rather a reflection of the current state of political instability.  

For these reasons there will be little room for optimism at the upcoming AKP congress. While it is still too early to throw the AKP in the dustbin of history, clearly the once dynamic party has for all intents and purposes exhausted its own existence. 

As moderate voices in the party have been replaced by blind supporters of Erdogan, and internal criticism subjected to unjust attacks in the pro-Erdogan press, it is apparent that the AKP party of yesterday resembles nothing of what exists today.

With Erdogan stating last month that the constitution needs to be changed to suit his new de facto powers, which in his words, exist “whether one accepts it or not,” it seems that no one can predict where Turkey is headed.

However, even if we set aside claims of Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism, the AKP should be judged on its performance. Unfortunately for the party, the last few years have shown that, on many levels, it has failed the test of good governance, and it seems unlikely that the upcoming congress will persuade anyone outside of its diehard supporters that it will be able to put Turkey back onto a true path of prosperity.

In fact, for many, the opposite perception holds true: if the current situation continues, the AKP runs the risk of bringing the whole country down with it.

*This article appeared in Haaretz on 10 September 2015, please click here for original.

2 comments:

  1. Her sektörün ihtiyacını analiz ederek geliştirilen, satıştan satın almaya, muhasebeden finansa, e-ticaretten personel yönetimine kadar tüm çözümler için DİA yazılım kalitesinden yararlanın.http://www.dia.com.tr/ #Dia #yazilim #DİAYazilim

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  2. Türkiye’nin kayak merkezi Uludağ’da onlarca otel bulunmaktadır. 1. Ve 2. Oteller bölgesi olarak adlandırılan turizm yörelerinde, zirveye yakın yerde konumlanan tesislerin çoğunda farklı mesafelerde pistler de mevcuttur. http://www.uludagoteller.com.tr/uludag-otelleri/ #uludağ #oteller #uludağoteller

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