Governance troubles hit Erdoğan’s AKP
It’s been six months since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections with an almost 50 percent majority, forming a powerful government. But it has obviously failed to address Turkey’s growing problems, such as ethnic and jihadist terrorism and foreign policy challenges, signaling an acute governance crisis.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), by far the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, have recently intensified deadly attacks across Turkey, from west to east, increasing the number of casualties with every passing day. Syria and Iraq continue to be the greatest source of security challenges in front of Turkey and the government has fallen flat in introducing sound answers to them. Turkey’s image has been deteriorating abroad due to restrictions in fundamental freedoms, especially in the field of media freedom.
By abandoning the peace process aiming to resolve the Kurdish question through peaceful means - and insisting on the adoption of a presidential system at the cost of nixing interparty efforts to rewrite Turkey’s first civilian constitution - the ruling AKP has made it clear that its sole priority is pursuing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambition to consolidate his power in a system of one-man rule without checks and balances.
There is no doubt that the president is the source of what many call political tension within the AKP and between Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. His aides are aggressively navigating Ankara politics in pursuit of the abovementioned ambitions of the president.
Three things are now clear:
- Disagreement between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu is no longer mere speculation or a rumor-mongering that people like to talk about in Ankara. On the contrary, it has become part of the political agenda and an issue, which is believed to be set to preoccupy Ankara politics in the days ahead.
- Furthermore, this is not only a “notional issue.” Pro-Erdoğan media have indirectly blamed Davutoğlu’s team for leaking pictures of the son of Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım at a casino in Singapore. Yıldırım is considered to be Erdoğan’s right-hand man and a potential future prime minister. These accusations against Davutoğlu have been followed by a long article posted on a website listing a number of pieces of evidence apparently showing how the prime minister is trying to weaken President Erdoğan’s position.
- Third and most important, these developments have shown that the AKP is not immune to in-house debates. The integrity of Turkey’s longest ruling political party could be at stake, with the governance crisis affecting the country now starting to hit the AKP as well.
Prime Minister Davutoğlu’s statement to his parliamentary group on May 3 was a direct response to these recent developments, as he tried to underline that the AKP is much more important than individuals - including himself. But it should be seen that this in-house fight within the AKP is real - and could bring about unexpected consequences.