The demystification of the AK Party

Published 19.06.2015 22:22
Updated 03.08.2015 14:33

Turkey's political life is experiencing a liveliness it has not seen in the past 13 years. Administered for the past 13 years by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) regime, Turkey now has to be directed by a coalition due to the results of the June 7 general elections. As soon as the election results became known, the media began talking about various coalition scenarios. The analyses done directly after the elections focused on the "defeat of the AK Party" and the reasons why the AK Party had not come out as the first party from these elections was questioned. In fact, many international media organizations considering the elections ignored the fact that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had not been involved in the elections and depicted the election results as "Erdoğan's defeat." The results being considered as the defeat of the AK Party in the days following the election was about the success strategy of the opposition parties. The opposition parties were active in trying to make the AK Party lose power and to obstruct it forming a government by itself. With this thinking, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) - second, third and fourth in the election respectively - all acted as if they were winners and celebrated their victory. When the question of what now began to be asked and topics of debate about Turkey's fundamental issues came up, this feeling began to dissipate. This time around, comments centered on the fact that despite everything, the AK Party was the first party and that it must absolutely be present in any coalition that would be formed.

For example, openly oppositional to the AK Party and working like the HDP's propaganda machine before the election, the broadcasting corporations of the Doğan Media Group began to change their discourse and started saying that the AK Party must be involved in the administration. Workplaces and some civil society organizations that had been opposed to the AK Party before the election changed their attitudes as well. Suddenly, the positive steps taken during AK Party's 13-year regime began to be remembered. It is obvious that the cause for this transformation is not because of a change that has occurred in the AK Party's administration or policy. The AK Party, while saying that it would learn its lesson from its mistakes in the aftermath of the elections, also said that it would continue to embrace the political ontology that created it. So, what is it that lies beneath this change of attitude toward the AK Party? It is necessary to first observe that in Turkish political life, opposition to the AK Party has come to be equated with opposition to Erdoğan. The Gezi Park protests and the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 operations directed by the Gülen Movement did not target the AK Party, but Erdoğan.

The actors who before the elections were openly against the AK Party and saying that the AK Party was taking Turkey back, but who are now speaking favorably of the positive things the party has done and that the AK Party must definitely be involved in the coalition to be formed, are speaking while keeping two things in mind. The first is that they view the AK Party not forming the administration by itself and being balanced out by a coalition partner as an opportunity. The second is the assumption that within this new political context, there is a possibility of the AK Party being emancipated from Erdoğan's political influence and inheritance. At this very point, the AK Party that was seen as the source of all evil and was continually mystified opposition parties has come to be considered a normal actor. In this sense, within Turkish politics, we are facing a situation that can be termed the demystification of the AK Party. However, there are certain issues that must be kept in mind by those who want to make a realistic and objective analysis of Turkish politics. The first is that Erdoğan, elected president with 52 percent of the people's vote, is not facing any kind of legitimacy issue. Second, within the framework of the present laws, Erdoğan has great authority, even more than the authority of presidents in countries where a presidential system is in place as many political scientists have claimed. Third, Erdoğan is not a political actor who is coy about sharing his political vision of being a political actor that will enter the election in 2019 and successfully shares this vision with the public. Fourth, Erdoğan is someone who knows what political pragmatism is and possesses the ability to speedily adapt to the new political reality. All of this shows that the reality of Erdoğan will continue to be an important part of Turkish politics. For this reason, making the AK Party part of a strategy of surrounding Erdoğan will be one of eroding the AK Party.

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