Questions linger over Turkish politics in the coming period

Questions linger over Turkish politics in the coming period

On March 24, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been ruling Turkey since late 2002, is due to hold its seventh general convention under the leadership of President and AKP Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This particular gathering seems to be much more important than the party’s previous conventions, as Erdoğan has signaled that he will outline a comprehensive manifesto and road map for his party toward 2023 and beyond.

For sure, apart from the fact that 2023 will mark Turkey’s centennial, it’s also the year of parliamentary and presidential elections, if no snap polls take place before.

According to senior AKP officials, such as deputy leaders Mahir Ünal and Erkan Kandemir, Erdoğan will utilize the gathering to both reshuffle party executives and cabinet members and reenergize the grassroots through an assertive mandate.

Turkey has long been preoccupied with Erdoğan’s strong reform narrative, as he outlined the Human Rights Action Plan and Economic Reform Plan in recent weeks.

A return to the reform agenda received national and international plaudits, with observers calling on the government to fully implement the proposals to get the best results.

Three things – one each in the political, social and economic spheres – have happened in this period:
A prosecutor launched legal action to close the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which garnered around 6.5 million votes in the June 2018 elections.

Again in the past week, Erdoğan signed a decree to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention, an international document that promotes societal gender equality and obliges the government to take all legal and administrative actions against violence against women.

The convention had long drawn the ire of religious sects and conservative groups, which argued that the document had been hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality and undermine Turkish society’s family values. In opposition to this view, almost all women’s associations, including conservative ones, had called on the government to stick with the convention as it endorses the very nature of contemporary gender equality.

The third development was about the economy. Erdoğan removed Central Bank Gov. Naci Ağbal and appointed Professor Şahap Kavcıoğlu, who became the fourth governor in the last three years.

The unexpected removal of Ağbal, who garnered the general approval of domestic and external markets in his four months in office, has sparked questions about the predictability of the Turkish economy in the coming period.

These three issues are being widely discussed at home and abroad, with many wondering about the direction of Turkish politics in the coming period. It’s believed that all these actions were deliberately taken before the AKP convention in line with Erdoğan’s road map for 2023.

The answers to the questions will surely be found in his talk at the congress.

Serkan Demirtaş,