AKP should put its money where its mouth is

AKP should put its money where its mouth is

A strategy paper prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the upcoming local elections reportedly declares the party’s determination to combat corruption and bribery in local government.

According to an article in the Feb. 3 edition of Hürriyet Daily News, the paper, which is said to be one of two such documents prepared by the government, will be revealed to the public by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The declaration will reportedly not only underline the government’s determination to combat corruption, but will also pledge transparency and accountability in local administrations, as well as spell out the means for efficiently auditing municipal loans.

This all sounds wonderful given that Turkey is a country that is notorious for corruption at the municipal level. A visitor to Istanbul, for example, does not need to look far to understand this.

A cursory glance at the city’s historic skyline, which is changing overnight as a result of gaudy skyscrapers, is enough to prove this. The visitor will naively wonder, of course, how such a crime against one of the most beautiful in cities in the world can be permitted.

For the average Turk, who has become a hardened cynic with regard to such topics, the answer is a simple one In other words, it is obvious how the multi-billion dollar building sector in this country can get away with all of this in broad daylight.

Even President Gül took a dig at this last week during his visit to Rome when he commented on how wonderful it was that the Roman skyline was not littered with high rise buildings and shopping malls.
A ruling party that promises to combat such grand scale corruption and bribery should under normal circumstances garner many votes, especially if it has a convincing political track record that inspires confidence.

In the case of Erdoğan and the AKP, however, any confidence that may have existed has been shattered by the corruption scandal that broke out on Dec. 17, also implicating key members of the
government, and with some accusations reaching as far Erdoğan’s son.

This is why accepting the AKP’s promise to combat corruption at face value will for many Turks amount to accepting a wolf’s promise to leave the sheep alone to its care and protect them against other wolves.

Turkey today is faced with an investigation that could end up revealing one of the country’s greatest corruption and bribery case, which has not only taken place on the AKP’s watch, but also involves “sticky fingers” from within the party.

Therefore, in order for Erdoğan to be convincing when he declares his government’s determination to fight corruption, he has to have acted very differently with regard to the current corruption scandal.

Instead, he immediately tried to divert attention elsewhere with claims of a grand conspiracy to pull the carpet from under his government. In addition to this, the AKP is not only trying to tamper with the judicial system, but has unleashed a massive purge of the police force and the judiciary, in what most people believe is an attempt to protect itself against future corruption scandals.

Meanwhile, the whole world has been watching to see how Erdoğan handles this crisis, and judging by the increasing number of highly critical commentary and analyses in international media, has already given him a very negative vote on this score.

Clearly any fight against corruption has to start at home to be convincing. Erdoğan’s failure - or rather refusal - to do so, however, is glaring. That is why many feel the AKP should put its money where its mouth is, rather than try and protect those who expect the money to be put in their side pockets.