The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, which has been ruling the country since 2002, has succeeded thus far in renewing its political power by increasing its votes in each and every election. In general, voters lean toward the political party they believe seems willing and capable of resolving the main questions of the country. Issues of the economy, health, education, security and foreign policy in general and the Kurdish question in particular, constitute the main points of reference that affect the voting behavior of Turkey's electorate.
In return of the AK Party government's success in tackling and resolving numerous long-standing, complicated and difficult issues of the country, Turkey's electorate renewed its trust in the government in each local and general election.
The AK Party's unquestionable electoral success and its thriving institutionalization prove to be an essential component of this. It is well-known that only an institutionalized political party is capable of establishing and maintaining political power. In Turkey, until the last decade, after political parties came to power, government issues instantly came to the forefront, party institutions began to be neglected and corrupted and classical decay was completed.
As opposed to all preceding political experiences, former prime minister and current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has paid much attention to the party institution and has established a balance that leans a little more toward the party then the government. During the foundational days of the AK Party, a particular political group struggled to constrain its political power through relying on military tutelage. In a similar vein, the owners of the old Turkey endeavored to subvert the AK Party government in the fourth year of its political power through judicial tutelage. While the ruling party that took almost half of the votes in the elections faced trials of party closure, Erdoğan succeeded in getting his party and country out of the crises and difficulties.
In a moment when Turkey seemed to resolve its main systemic problems except those of administration, a minor issue of urban ecology turned into the eruption of the Gezi Park protests, which was followed by the Gülen Movement's alleged coup attempt through its member's positions in the judiciary and police. An explanation was given that the attempted coup, which was defeated by Erdoğan's leadership, was, instead of being the result of internal dynamics, latently supported by Israel, Iran and Germany, which were all against the resolution process of the Kurdish question for different reasons.
After all these troubles were dealt with, the AK Party has acquired a strong position for its institutionalization. Particularly, the party's chairman and the country's prime minister were changed in the last party congress so professionally that the given process appeared as a textbook case for political science as a whole.
Through its electoral announcements, campaigns and rallies together with its creative use of advertisements and music, the AK Party established successful communication with the public as liberal political parties do in advanced democracies. In addition to the productive and smooth working of the party's organization, such communication skills have enabled the AK Party to become one of the leading examples of success in the international political system.
After its triumph in the last presidential elections, the term "predominant party" has come to the front in the denomination of the AK Party's political power. Without taking into account political issues and the AK Party's positive influence in the Islamic world, it is possible to argue even only in technical terms that the ruling party has already become institutionalized. The recent controversies within the AK Party's internal structure are fundamental both for its institutionalization and its appreciation by the people. It is manifest that the people still hold the AK Party as the force of stability and hope and nobody has the right to drive them into desperateness.
About the author
İhsan Aktaş is Chairman of the Board of GENAR Research Company. He is an academic at the Department of Communication at Istanbul Medipol University.