The fifth party convention has shown that the AK Party is making its preparations for the upcoming elections in light of the message given by voters in the June 7 elections by not bringing the party to power alone
With only 47 days to go until the parliamentary elections the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has taken a major step to lay the groundwork to regain the lost political ground and come to power on its own as it held its fifth party convention and revamped its executive structure.
It is clear that the AK Party has learnt some serious lessons from the polls and thus is trying to appease the masses that have supported the party over the past 13 years in successive elections.
The convention showed that the first important lesson is that its executive structure as it headed to the June 7 elections was defective and that some serious changes were needed. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan always boasted that in the past 13 years the party executives had become masters of their jobs and thus were effectively running the party and were effective in the successive elections victories. He even poked fun at the opposition saying that people like opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu were apprentices. But it seems the fact that once Erdoğan departed and was elected president in August 2014, some "apprentices" took important key posts in the party leadership and this contributed to some of the mistakes that led to the fall in the AK Party votes.
Now Erdoğan has seen the problem areas and has indirectly but effectively intervened to add the old guard into the AK Party picture and bring back some of the masters who will make important contributions as the party goes to the polls. The party has scrapped the limitation that allowed deputies to be elected for only three terms thus opening the way for the "masters" to come in.
The return of former ministers Hayati Yazıcı and Recep Akdağ shows people who know the party organization well and who are very close to Erdoğan will take initiatives to bring new vitality to the party organization. There are many more close people who are close to Erdoğan who have entered the party executive who will make a positive contribution.
Meanwhile, some inexperienced people close to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have lost their positions in the party executive. It seems Davutoğlu was not very happy with all this but later regarded it as a price to be paid if the party wants to succeed in the Nov. 1 elections.
In a related development those close to former President Abdullah Gül also lost their positions in the party executive like Ali Babacan, Hüseyin Çelik, Mehmet Şimşek, Bülent Arınç and Beşir Atalay, which shows very clearly that Erdoğan is unhappy with the attitude of Gül who has not provided all out support to the party and who seems to be doing some shadow boxing on the sidelines.
The convention also showed that the AK Party realizes it lost some votes to the ultra-conservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and is making an effort to get those votes back. In fact some tradesmen and artisans in central Anatolia had switched votes hoping that the MHP would enter a coalition and thus provide them with dividends. But that did not happen and we are told such voters are now considering voting for the AK Party on Nov. 1.
That is why Davutoğlu at his convention address made a special point saying the MHP has rejected all his calls for a partnership, has been uncompromising. He said instead the MHP has joined forces with the Kurdish nationalists in Parliament to vote against the AK Party motions.
Last but not least the AK Party has seen the light and will be making a real effort to erase its image as the "friend" of the elite of Turkey and will return to its roots as a party friendly to the financially suffering masses. Thus the AK Party will reportedly offer pay increases to the pensioners and social benefits to the underprivileged.
The AK Party has played all its cards to win in the polls. Whether the voters buy all this remains to be seen.