The latest traditional party convention of AK Party in the town of Kızılcahamam is just over. I hope that the convention was productive. MPs and leaders of local party organizations from all ranks spent two days in the gathering. Because not much information has been leaked out to the public, all I can do is wishing that they had a fruitful convention.
Let me immediately explain the reason of my wish: AK Party is expected to rule our country during coming four years, and, just looking at the present-day picture it is not difficult to anticipate that this four-year period will be one of the hottest periods of our political history. There are lots of challenging problems at home and abroad accumulated in recent years, and only a strong government may overcome these problems. However, AK Party recently appears to have lost strength considerably while it is heading to the end of 17th year in power.
Here, with the phrase of `losing strength’ I don’t merely mean the relative loss in elections leading to the formation of an alliance with MHP, which has resulted in further erosion of votes in the traditional grassroots of the party.
People who can analyze this situation best and confirm my observation must be party officials who get several research companies conducting public opinion polls every month and have access to findings of these researches.
Considering that even directors of these research companies feel the need of warning the party in public, too, important details of the researches that are kept away from the public eye must be shared with the party officials in one-to-one meetings.
Problems of AK Party go beyond what is meant by the word ‘instigation’, the word used by the President in the conclusion of the convention as an answer to criticisms raised by the delegates throughout.
I believe that party officials from the local party organizations shared their experiences with the executives courageously by speaking up their minds.
Emphasize on the word of ‘instigation’ in the closing speech of the convention gives me this hope.
Weakening of AK Party affects political life as a whole.
Before AK Party formed a political alliance with MHP, the harshest opposition to AK Party government did not come from the main opposition party, CHP, but from MHP. Present-day technologies help us to recall how merciless the battle of words between the leaders and top party officials of these two parties was. The cause of MHP’s vulgar criticism against AK Party in the past was the policies of the AK Party government. AK Party had to give up those policies in order to form an alliance with MHP.
The abandonment of the former political stand has caused some part of the AK Party’s grassroots get alienated, and this is the reason why voting rate of the party is declining.
The weakened AK Party’s alliance with MHP accelerates this tendency of declining voting rate.
Changing political life is a direct result of AK Party’s conduct
It is easy to notice how the political convergence between AK Party and MHP benefits and encourages MHP. Even it may be argued that İyi Party, established by a group of leading figures who were previously in MHP, owes his presence as a new political party with significant representation in the parliament -at least to some considerable extent- to the new political climate that strengthens MHP as well. Because voters who have supported İyi Party could have preferred AK Party if there hadn’t been any substantial change in AK Party’s essential political conduct.
In this regard, İyi Party is a product of the 17-year rule of AK Party.
And HDP, too…
I would argue that HDP, nowadays subjected to attempts for marginalizing itself from politics as an illegal political formation, could overcome the 10-percent barrier in the past elections thanks to AK Party. Please don’t be baffled at my argument but think over it for a while.
I have a question that may help you in your assessment of my claim here: While HDP traditionally was challenged by the 10-percent barrier in all elections in the past, through attracting whose votes it achieved to overcome this barrier in last elections? In other words, which party would have this additional HDP electorate voted for if there hadn’t been the changes in AK Party’s political conduct that I mentioned above?
In one way or another, AK Party lost a substantial part of its votes to HDP.
If AK Party executives assume that they would get their votes back from HDP in case of closure of this party, I can tell you that they are in a miscalculation.
And, what about CHP?
For long years, CHP served as a very effective tool for AK Party to draw support from large masses of people. CHP was like a punching ball used for training in boxing, and the more AK Party punched this opposition party the more strength it gained. CHP, on the other hand, was incapable of standing up to those attacks because of misconducts and faulty policies during its century-long existance in Turkish political life, which many of its previous leaders held them dear.
Does the party of today called CHP resemble the old CHP? Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the present leader of CHP, has turned his party into one that now manages to attract even votes from some AK Party supporters.
I cite name of the party leader when I mention the recent transformation of CHP, but, as a matter of fact, it is AK Party itself which has turned CHP into a party that is now capable of attracting some conservative votes, too.
AK Party may pride itself on its works, but. . .
AK Party now enjoys what it lacked or had little of when it began its political life. I will be content with media as an example. In the beginning of its political adventure, AK Party’s support in the media was next to nothing. Today, however, very large portion of newspapers and television channels are supportive of the party.
Do you think that this is something beneficial to AK Party?
I consider the pro-government media as the weakest link of AK Party today.
The same may be said for those known as ‘AK Party supporters’ in the public arena.
There seems to be a sharp contrast between the outlook of AK Party in its foundation period and that of today.
One of few ongoing traditional events of the party that are still alive today is the consultation convention that is organized every year around this time in Kızılcahamam.
I express my wish once more that the convention was productive.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on October 7, 2019]