AKP is on a slippery slope no matter what…

AKP is on a slippery slope no matter what…

The June elections showed that the supposedly unbeatable Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lost its magic and demonstrated that the classic rule of politics, namely, that time eats away at the support of any party in a democracy, is also valid in this case. 

Yet the loss of power is not something President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his staunch supporters within the AKP are prepared to accept. This is why they did their best to spoil any chance of a coalition government being formed, and pushed hard for early elections on Nov. 1. 

They hope these will return the AKP’s parliamentary majority. One of the main reasons why they need the AKP in power on its own again has to do with another rule of politics; namely, that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

The whole country knows what Erdoğan, when he was the head of the AKP and prime minister, together with some of his former ministers, are accused of in this respect. They need a strong electoral win for the AKP as protection against all the unfavorable prospects that face them should they lose their grip on power. 

It is not just a question of corruption, though. There are many other reasons for them to fear the loss of power, starting with the great privileges they and their supporters have accrued and enjoyed over these past 12 years. It would be wrong, however, to think that everyone in the AKP is cut from the same cloth. 

Clearly there are senior members – some of them founding members – who are deeply dissatisfied about the wrong turns the party has taken, especially over these past five years. Bülent Arınç, who has been marginalized by Erdoğan supporters in the party, is one of them. 

He came out recently and said they had turned from an “We party” into an “I party,” which was, of course, a barely concealed criticism of Erdoğan and his desire to use the AKP as a stepping stone to become Turkey’s sole leader.

All eyes are on the November elections now, and Erdoğan has started openly canvassing for the AKP even if this is unconstitutional. If the AKP fails to get the necessary support, though – with the results of the elections mirroring the results of the June elections when the AKP lost its parliamentary majority – it does not take much imagination to see that this will lead to serious turbulence within the party.

The possibility of turbulence also exists if the AKP regains its majority by a slim margin and leaves it facing a strong opposition bloc in Parliament. Such a bloc could unite around specific issues in order to hit at Erdogan and the AKP even if it is deeply divided on other topics. 

There is also the fact that the elections will be held under extraordinary circumstances in the east and southeast, where the conditions imposed are tantamount to martial law. This will cast a shadow over the AKP, too, if it wins, even by a slim majority. 

Many domestic and foreign observers will question the legitimacy of elections held under these circumstances. These questions are already being asked today.

Pointing out that nothing but turbulence awaits Turkey for the near future because of these developments leaves one facing insults, accusations and insinuations from the AKP and the pro-government media. 

But when one puts all the available factors and variables on the table in order to try and make an educated guess about what the immediate future holds for the country, none of the likely conclusions favor Erdoğan and the AKP. 

All the signs indicate that, this party – which started off well in 2002, and gained much praise as a democratically oriented reformist party, but turned away from all that in order to serve Erdoğan’s political interests – is on a slippery slope even if it manages to cling on to power by its nails.