DOIU – Why is the AKP still popular?

Why is the AKP still popular?Some Western journalists and news agencies are calling to ask whether the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has lost its chance of a fourth electoral victory in the upcoming national elections in six monthsand#39 time. After all, it has been battered with serious claims of graft and corruption and most recently criticized for its draconian measures of arresting journalists and violating freedom of expression.

My answers must have a chilling effect on these foreign journalists. I have told them that the AKP government may have lost some support but not to the degree that they can be challenged by any other party in the elections.

They were surprised because they were making comparisons with their countries — where separation of powers, accountability and the rule of law were by and large entrenched.Why is Turkey different (but not unique)?Until the aent of the AKP government in 2002, the majority of the Turkish electorate was conditioned to adopt or to abide by the lifestyle, behavioral patterns and social values of a relatively small ruling minority.

This minority introduced itself as the secular, Western-oriented vanguard of the Turkish Renaissance. It had a self-adopted and self-defined mission of leading the country into a andldquocontemporary civilization.

andrdquoConsidering that the society was underdeveloped, parochial and insufficiently educated, they imposed a draconian administration to modernize it. Social unrest that attempted to shake off this yoke was suppressed with coups, and the society was ruled by authoritarian laws and measures.

No civic society that could generate common sense and democratic discourse could prosper The tutelage of the bureaucracy, especially its armed wing, over the society persisted no matter who won the elections.Consequently, the present cries of andldquodemocracy is being trampled onandrdquo do not sound like a sincere complaint by the majority, especially coming from those who are associated with the old systemOn the other hand, those segments of society that have been kept out of the political and economic center are now enjoying their newly acquired rank in politics, economic life and the bureaucracy.

More than anything else they became respectable, with their own dress codes, mode of behavior and traditional andor religious values. All the institutions worked together to provide them visibility, prominence and power You can call this a spectacular journey from obscurity and insignificance to respect and importance.

This transformation is viewed by the majority that enjoyed it as a true revolution. Conversely, it was seen as a counter-revolution by the former elite that have lost their power and prominence.

Those who won identified their fortunes with the AKP. Supporting the AKP under all conditions became an existential vocation for those who have been blessed through this partyand#39s government.

Until the AKP, religiosity was a cultural identity area that had developed in opposition to the secular nationalism of the founding ruling elite. The AKP rebuilt it as a political identity zone on which it based its governmentand#39s philosophy and practices.

Thus, it was able to attract even the Kurds, who were left out by the authoritarian nationalismThe AKPand#39s defense against accusations that it politicizes religion is direct and simple. The republican regime has made management of the religious domain a state prerogative from the onset.

The Religious Affairs Directorate was created for this purpose. It has designed Sunni Islam, the creed of the majority, in such a way as to support the republican regime without leaving any initiative to civil society.

As regards graft and abuse of office, every Turk knows that the abuse of office can be nepotism and that obtaining and providing monetary favors using oneand#39s official position is as old as the history of their country. Regarding the popular reaction to graft and financial abuse, people do not seriously oppose the perpetrators if they do not directly hurt themMany people know of wide-scale graft, but they tend to believe it is realized by a party that they see as being better and friendlier to them than previous governments.

They assume that those questionable funds are reinforcing their newly won positions and statuses.One additional factor is the collective subconscious.

Past events of banishing or deporting non-Muslim minorities and confiscating their valuables to enrich Muslim citizens are a shared guilt that legitimizes lesser vices. Upgrading the financial and social status of Muslims through unethical practices is hardly condemned as it should be.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman