Shaken by the disappointing June 7 election results, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) dwelled heavily on economic pledges to youth and retirees when campaigning before the Nov. 1 elections. Millions now expect the AK Party to fulfill these promises.
While most political parties opted not to hold rallies and the public was preoccupied with terrorism, the AK Party gained significant momentum in the last week of campaigning by addressing problems afflicting the youth and senior citizens. Prime Minister and AK Party Chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu announced these pledges at his party's rally in Malatya on Oct. 28 and issued 10 distinct economic pledges.
Realizing that the general health insurance (GSS) debts burdened many youths, the AK Party promised to write off all debts. The plan also included free general health insurance for university graduates for up to two years after they finish school. The AK Party further promised to increase the monthly financial support it provides to university students from TL 330 ($93.6) to TL 400. The AK party is also expected to provide free Internet to youths. Davutoğlu reiterated the AK Party's pledges to support recent university graduates who are looking at investing with a TL 50,000 ($17,564) fund with no repayment. A further TL 100,000 interest-free funding will be provided by the government where necessary.
Apart from pledges made to the youth, the AK Party said it would increase the minimum wage to TL 1,300. The party also guaranteed new financial privileges to senior citizens. If the promises are kept, retirees will receive an extra TL 1,200 a year. Retirees having to pay rents will also be pleased by the AK Party's pledges to provide flats with TL 250 installments.
The AK Party did not neglect new mothers either. New regulations will allow mothers to receive TL 300 for their first child, TL 400 for the second and TL 600 for the third per month. Laws regarding maternity leave will also be improved.
Speaking to Daily Sabah on the issue, newly elected AK Party Istanbul deputy and Daily Sabah columnist Markar Esayan said the AK Party has helped the poor economically since 2002 and the pledges have not come out of the blue in the June 7 and Nov. 1 elections. "While the ratio of the middle class was 10 percent in 2002, it has now passed 40 percent, which is a significant success," Esayan said.
Underscoring that the economy and national security are the two main pillars around which the AK Party builds its policy, Esayan said the AK Party has done its homework well since the June 7 elections and will continue to carry out its projects and bolster stability. "Labeling the AK Party's pledges as radical changes is unjust. The AK Party analyzed the needs of society and explained its pledges well unlike it did during the campaign before the June 7 elections. Thanks to the AK Party, conditions that were sufficient in the past are now not enough for our citizens," Esayan said.
When asked about why the people chose the AK Party's pledges over those of the Republican People's Party (CHP), Esayan argued that the CHP could not assure the people that it would fulfill its pledges. "The CHP has done well, yet it was not enough for Turkey," Esayan said, conceding some credit to the CHP. Esayan also asserted that the people believe the AK Party will uphold its promises.