No change in government, AK Party’s strength crucial, experts say

MEHMED CAVID BARKÇIN
ANKARA
Published 03.06.2015 16:02

The upcoming June 7 general elections mark the end of the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) third term as the ruling party. Striving for a fourth term, it is likely to acquire the majority of the votes according to numerous experts. However, how the deputies will be distributed in Parliament constitutes a whole different discussion.

A panel was organized by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), a think-tank based in Ankara, on June 2, with Tuncay Önder, an academic of public administration at Gazi University and author of the report "Justice and Development Party Toward the June 7 Elections;" Okan Müderrisoğlu, a journalist at Sabah daily, and Burhanettin Duran, general coordinator of SETA, as the panelists. The panel, which was moderated by Muhittin Ataman, the deputy general director of SETA, aimed to analyze the AK Party's current disposition while considering the effects of domestic and international developments since the party acquired of power.

Önder, while describing it as a "one-horse race," indicated that the upcoming elections are crucial for the AK Party as they will determine whether the party will be able to institutionalize their vision of a "New Turkey" or not. He then continued on to the advantages and disadvantages the AK Party possessed regarding the elections. He asserted that the AK Party has become synonymous with stability, is advocating for change and reform and has an equal distribution of votes across Turkey. However, he also said that the upcoming elections will be the third election in a span of 15 months and therefore, participation may be low due to voter exhaustion.

Müderrisoğlu spoke of a positive correlation between sustainable economic development and the AK Party's continuous rise. Affirming that voters care about direct improvements to their daily lives, Müderrisoğlu said that the AK Party had issues at first while trying to counter the opposition's promises. However, he added that the opposition's material promises were not economically sustainable and lacked vision. The AK Party, as a counter measure, started to implement what they have promised in their election campaigns.

Duran said that AK Party's rule consisted of confrontations with various internal and external issues. He said the first confrontation was with the Kemalist structure of the state and the second was an intra-party confrontation with the nationalist view. The third confrontation, he continued, was about international affairs and the changing political landscape of the region, the Arab Spring, Turkey's perception as a model modern country and then the sudden change of this perception due to Turkey's involvement. Finally, he said that the ultimate confrontation was within the party itself. He concluded by saying that opposition to the AK Party is becoming more organized by the day and it is not an easy task to manage such organized opposition.

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