Erdoğan and AKP dissidents likely to engage in a stormy row

Erdoğan and AKP dissidents likely to engage in a stormy row

A senior official of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has complained about an ongoing anti-AKP campaign mainly on social media, but also supported by international media outlets, which suggests that the ruling party has started losing power and integrity following the local elections, particularly the losses of Istanbul and Ankara.

“There has been very efficient disinformation against our party after the local elections. This includes all sorts of biased analysis on the current state of the AK Party as if it was not the party that ruled Turkey for 17 years by overcoming all sorts of crises and interventions,” the official said.

Its power of resistance and resilience should not be underestimated, the official recalled. “All the experience accumulated since 2002 and its power to resist have made the AK Party stronger than ever before.”

That was the mood displayed at the AKP’s 18th anniversary last Friday. President and AKP chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underlined the role the AKP has played since its foundation and vowed that it will continue in the future as well.

Apart from other issues, he conveyed his main messages to his former comrades who nowadays are in efforts to form their own political parties. “Those who have left this sacred house will never succeed,” Erdoğan told.

Erdoğan was indirectly referring to former President Abdullah Gül, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former economy minister Ali Babacan, as well as many others who had split their ways with the AKP. These names have not been invited to the AKP ceremony although all former officials and members of parliament were present at the anniversary.

Many AKP officials used the venue to verbally attack against those names, with accusations of treachery. “If leaving your comrades alone in the middle of a fight cannot be described as treachery than how else can [their departure] be defined?” asked a senior official from the party.

These accusations against once senior AKP members have been immediately responded to by Davutoğlu who has become the most vocal and outspoken among all the dissidents. At a speech in Sakarya province in the same hours’ with the AKP anniversary, Davutoğlu refuted the accusations of treachery and challenged the current AKP leadership.

“They called us traitors. They have defined our acts as treachery. Nobody can call any prime minister who has been elected to this ministry through the will of the people a traitor. There will never be a traitor prime minister in this country,” he said.

His speech was not limited to his quick answers to the AKP’s accusations. Davutoğlu, who served as prime minister between late September 2014 and May 2016, had dropped hints over the state of Turkey during his premiership particularly in regards to the fight against terrorism.

“Many people will not be able to go out in public if one is to rake up the past in regards to the fight against terror. Why? Check your memory: If the history of the Republic of Turkey would be written one day, the most critical part of that history will be the period between June 7 and October 1 [in 2015],” he stated.

The period Davutoğlu was referring to in 2015 had witnessed two parliamentary elections: One on June 7, in which the AKP failed to garner parliamentary majority with around 40.8 percent of votes, and the other on Oct. 1, which granted Davutoğlu a comfortable government with 49.5 percent of the votes.

Turkey had suffered from one of the deadliest terrorist campaigns with multiple attacks across the country in the said period. The two biggest incidents were on July 20, 34 youngsters in Suruç district of the southeastern border province of Şanlıurfa were killed in a bomb attack by ISIL and 102 people were victims of an attack by two suicide bombers in downtown Ankara on Oct. 10.

The former prime minister’s statement will likely trigger a new political discussion as almost all opposition parties, civil society organizations and the families of the victims of the said terror acts have already called on Davutoğlu to explain what he means by “raking up the past.”

The quarrel between the AKP and dissidents will likely escalate in the coming days through mutual accusations. Davutoğlu and his team seem to hasten works for the formation of the party whereas Gül-Babacan are planning to hit the road late November or early December before the end of this year. There are no signs that these two separate moves will merge.

Although Erdoğan is very confident that these dissidents will fail and will have no effect on the AKP, he is aware of the potential – although partial – shift from his electorate base to the new political entities.

“Even one percent of votes make a difference in the current ‘50 percent plus one vote system.’ We lost Istanbul polls [on March 31] because of the Felicity Party’s 0.8 percent votes,” told AKP official, expressing concern.

Not only that, in the eyes of the AKP official Ekrem İmamoğlu, the joint candidate of the opposition block whose name popped up just months before the Istanbul elections, has shown that Turkish politics is now paving way for Macron-like figures with the ability to garner enormous support through non-conventional media circles.

The period ahead signals a very tough struggle between Erdoğan and a large group of opposition in both traditional and unorthodox ways.