AKP’s sharp decline is not yet in the offing

The deepening rift between the presidential palace and the government came to the light of day when the two recently exchanged a bitter war of words over the already stalemated Kurdish peace process. At the center of the tension is the growing uneasiness felt about President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan’s continuous assertions of his power on the governance of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

In fact, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent ArInand#3

The deepening rift between the presidential palace and the government came to the light of day when the two recently exchanged a bitter war of words over the already stalemated Kurdish peace process.

At the center of the tension is the growing uneasiness felt about President Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s continuous assertions of his power on the governance of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

In fact, Deputy Prime Minister Banduumllent ArInandccediland#39s strong public reaction to ErdoIanand#39s statements last week, disapproving of the creation of a monitoring commission as well as a 10-point democratization plan that are intended to mark the beginning of negotiations with the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK), came in response to the latterand#39s persistent interference in government policies.

ErdoIan, however, signaled that he would not allow his former party to act independently when he selected Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu as the new prime minister after he was elected president in August last year Hence, DavutoIlu replaced ErdoIan as prime minister after the latter held this position for about 12 years.

In fact, on all the domestic and foreign policy issues that require government approval, ErdoIan makes statements asserting his power while trying to influence these policies. This is despite the fact that his presidential powers do not allow him to do so because his position requires impartiality.

He has come under strong criticism, mainly from opposition parties, for violating the Constitution by failing to remain neutral.

However, ArInandccediland#39s response to ErdoIan — indicating that it is the government which is running the country as a response to the latterand#39s persistent attempts to shape his former partyand#39s decisions — has demonstrated that the ruling AKP itself has also been uneasy over their former prime minister poking his nose into every matter that falls under the executive responsibility.

On the other hand, when ErdoIan became president, it was unavoidable that he would soon find his new position challenging and busy and that he would be removed from day-to-day policymaking. We see the results of this situation when the government and president issue contradictory messages.

The underlying reason, however, behind ErdoIanand#39s interference in AKP policies lies in his ultimate goal of enabling his former party to win a stronger majority in Parliament in the June 7 general elections so that it can amend the Constitution in order to pave the way for a switch from the current parliamentary system to an executive presidency. This will consolidate ErdoIanand#39s power amid concerns that he has been displaying authoritarian instincts.

But the first-ever direct confrontation between ErdoIan and the AKP government might also signal that there is opposition within the ruling party to ErdoIanand#39s ambitions of introducing a presidential system

Prime Minister DavutoIlu has tried to downplay the recent bitter row between the president and ArInandccedil, but the damage is done.

President ErdoIan has already begun losing control of his former party.

The AKP, for its part, has revealed that cracks have started forming within the party on many policy issues since itand#39s mishandling of the 2013 Gezi park protests, which the police quelled with a disproportionate use of force. Government attempts to cover up the high-profile corruption and bribery investigation disclosed in 2013, which implicated not only some cabinet members but also ErdoIan himself, is another major incident that has caused a rift within the AKP.

Turkey under AKP rule for nearly 13 years is no longer sustainable.

Yet according to various opinion polls, the AKP still leads with around 42 to 43 percent of the votes with around two-and-a-half months left before the June 7 parliamentary elections.

The two main and junior opposition parties are both fragmented and weak, having no real democratic agenda to challenge AKPand#39s ongoing rule.

Ironically, the main pro-Kurdish Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP) has emerged as the only political party in Parliament that has strong and clearly articulated demands for improving Turkeyand#39s poor democratic standards.

It will also be the HDP that can change the composition of Parliament in the June elections if it crosses the 10 percent threshold. If it canand#39t get enough votes to bypass the threshold it will mean the ruling party will increase their number of deputies, which may pave the way for the AKP to amend the Constitution in order to introduce the executive presidency.

Nevertheless, if we do not come up with any surprising developments between now and the parliamentary elections, it appears that AKP will win the elections for the fourth time.

At the end of the day, in one way or another, AKPand#39s future decline is irreversible, perhaps giving birth to a new party from within that may pursue a more democratic agenda

.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman