Turkey’s ruling party and post-election priorities

Turkey’s ruling party and post-election priorities

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 31

By Rufiz Hafizoglu

Turkish Justice and Development Party's (AKP) overwhelming victory in the municipal elections held on March 30 could have been foreseen.

Aside from that, one can say the AKP was confident of its victory. Otherwise, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would not have declared that he would retire from politics in case of defeat in the municipal elections.

It was predicted that the ruling party would gain about 40 percent of the votes, but according to the preliminary results (98 percent of processed ballots) the AKP gained 45.56 percent of the votes.

The oppositional Republican People's Party (CHP) gained 27.91 percent, while the National Action Party (MHP) gained 15.16 percent of the votes. The remaining votes accounted for other parties taking part in the elections.

AKP's relatively greater experience in the municipal system as compared to other political parties was one of the main reasons for the ruling party's victory in these elections. Undoubtedly, other political parties also have such experience, but their experience level is incomparable with that of AKP.

Another important reason has been both political and economic reforms conducted by the ruling party, which brought them results in the municipal elections this year, and there is no doubt that at the same time they will also affect the parliamentary elections in 2015.

As for the AKP's activities after the elections, it is certain that prior to the upcoming parliamentary elections, the party will be forced to make some changes in the country's domestic policies.

In general, the AKP's victory in the municipal elections, held in the background of the anti-corruption scandal that broke out in December 2013, and then the illegal wiretapping of government officials, may end in the political restructuring of Turkey.

If we carefully look through these pre-election events, it is safe to say that they were directed against the AKP. But the most interesting fact out of these events was that according to the ruling party the ideologically opposite political and religious groups - Republican People's Party (CHP) and Fethullah Gulen movement, had a common interest in the elections.

Generally, modern Turkish history has very rare occasions when ideologically different structures unite for a common goal. The political alliance between the CHP and the Gulen movement can be regarded as an exceptional case of political cooperation.

The analysis of recent events in the country shows that the Gulen movement is a very serious threat to the Justice and Development Party. That is why, despite the fact that the Gulen movement claims a serious impact on Turkey's domestic policies, it is not a political party and uses almost no methods of political struggle.

Many political analysts believe that after the AKP's victory in the municipal elections the Gulen movement will move away from the "political struggle", but this is unlikely. At least because the Turkish ruling party will now start taking steps to obtain Fethullah Gulen's extradition from the U.S. The extradition of Gulen is still questionable.

AKP's other step will be using all the political means, trying to make the supporters of the Gulen movement establish a political party. Because the creation of a political party of the Gulen movement will ensure transparency in the political arena and it is more likely to benefit the ruling party.

One more issue pending settlement, will be addressing the political consequences of the spread on YouTube of the Syrian issue's discussion by Turkish security forces.

Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of the Arabic-language news service desk of the Trend Agency.

Translated by E.A.

Edited by C.N.

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