AKP in the eye of the voter

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu said on the campaign trail that this election would determine the fate of the country. Turkey has undergone many critical elections before, but this election may be fateful for the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Allow me to say what I would rather say at the end of the column: The AKP will emerge from the impending elections as the primary party with approximately 40 percent of the vote. However, this percentage will not allow it to have the previous comfortable parliamentary majority. This is mainly due to votersand’ desire to restrain the AKPand’s arrogance, which is based on its claim that it is the and”peopleand’s choice.and”
The AKP uses its mandate to push the limits of the rule of law via omnibus bills, increasing arbitrariness in the administration and turning the collective identity of the party into a hegemonic instrument of its leader — developments that more and more voters are unhappy with. They want their party to return to its original values and principles rather than resemble the state apparatus. An increasing number of people believe that a more balanced Parliament will force the government to be less antagonistic and more conciliatory.
What are the main reasons why the AKPand’s support seems to have dwindled to around 40 percent today from 50 percent in September 2014?
1. The AKP has empowered marginalized and excluded citizens with economic, political and bureaucratic support. The supporters of the party, mostly of modest backgrounds, succeeded in getting closer to the center of power. They believed that their party would attain these goals with justice and ethics derived from the Islamic creed. But after a decade of nepotism, loyalty over merit, seeing greatness in conspicuous consumption, pomp and circumstance, they began to change their minds. The partyand’s leadership has demonized opponents, vilified other cultures and fired or jailed critics from different walks of life. The constant manufacturing of enemies, putschists, spies and conspirators has distanced the party from promoting solidarity within the country and the ensuing polarization has begun to worry people.
2. The AKP remained loyal to the economic program it inherited from the previous government in 2002 through which it has maintained economic stability and revitalized the economy by supporting the private sector. The national income rose and increasing incomes widened the circle of satisfied people. The abundance of large caches of money circulating in the global financial system has eased Turkeyand’s hunger for capital.
However, most of the borrowed capital went to ostentatious construction projects and non-productive ends little was invested in technology and the education of a qualified workforce. Tensions between the political leadership and the managing cadre of the economy led to a devalued Turkish lira against rising foreign currency rates and a loss of confidence in the economy, while uncertainty led to increased inflation and unemployment. People began to feel uneasy.
3. Two trends emerged regarding the so-called and”Kurdish Problemand” or and”Solution Process.and” First, the Dolmabahandce Accord reached between the government and the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) was met with resistance by Turkish nationalists. Some of the nationalists who voted for the AKP in previous elections turned to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Second, in order to reverse this trend, the AKP leadership denied the existence of the and”Kurdish Problem.and” This opportunistic attitude increased public distrust of the government, which had also turned a blind eye to the Roboski airstrike on Kurdish smugglers, also known as the Uludere massacre, in December 2011 as well as the Kobane defense against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), calling each of the clashing groups terrorists.
These facts led some Kurds that had traditionally voted for the AKP to distance themselves from the party and rally around the HDP, which has to overcome the 10 percent election threshold. More Kurdish voters today believe that the HDPand’s presence in Parliament will offer better chances for the solution of the Kurdish problem.
4. The AKP started its political journey as the voice of the downtrodden and the excluded. In this sense, it was a party for the masses. However, after the third electoral victory in 2011, it evolved into a political instrument for its leader, who has autocratic tendencies. Common sense, reconciliation, respect for the rule of law and restraint against excesses were neglected. The party became a party based on a personality and began to resemble the coercive state apparatus. This trend created resistance among grassroots parties.
Furthermore, the more educated rank and file of the party felt uneasy in the face of estrangement from global realities and the mistakes made in the Middle Eastern theater.
Finally, it can be said that expectations of normalization, restoration of the polarized political scene and the solution of the Kurdish problem seem to be influencing voter preferences. More people see the corrosive effect of the antagonistic atmosphere in the political arena as breeding uncertainty and harming national solidarity as well as democratic traditions.
If the elections do not yield a more balanced Parliament and the 10 percent barrier excludes Kurds, the next AKP government may not be able to manage the country, which is already fragmented within and estranged from the world.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman