Why the AKP is tense

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- I used this column recently to talk about how, despite the end of the local elections, the tension in Turkey had not dropped yet.
The most important reason behind the failure of this tension to drop is the tension within the ranks of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In my previous column, I noted that the AKP’s loss of legitimacy and intellectual support was leading the party to act with less reason and sense. I also asserted that Turkish society as a whole was set to become even more polarized. (http:todayszaman.comcolumnistemre-uslu_343998_why-is-political-tension-still-high.html)

I believe that in order to better understand some of the underlying political tensions in Turkey, one would be well aised to more closely examine the reasons that there is tension within the AKP.

Under normal conditions, what would you expect from a party that emerged from elections with a strong victory? You would expect, at the very least, a celebration of that victory, right?

Victory relaxes, increases self-confidence and allows you to look toward the future with hope.

But have you observed any of these things — increased relaxation, self-confidence or hope for the future — among the party’s upper echelons in the wake of these latest elections?

In fact, contrary to any sort of victory euphoria in the AKP, there has been quite a lot of tension, anger and aggression in the party, more befitting, one would think, of a party that lost the elections.

Some observers see the fact that the AKP picked up 43 percent of the vote in these local elections as a great loss. There are those who attribute the current tension in the AKP to this.

At the same time, large swaths of Turkish society certainly view the AKP as having emerged victorious from the elections. What then accounts for the tension within the party, a tension that starts at the top with Recep Tayyip ErdoIan and goes all the way down to the lowest ranking “trolls” working to support the party? What accounts for the lack of energetic celebrations?

There are three main reasons for the tension in the AKP:

The first reason is the party’s legitimacy crisis. Victory at the ballot box did not bring the AKP legitimacy. Even segments of society who didn’t hear about the serious allegations of corruption in the days leading up to the election are now, with each passing day, learning more and more about these allegations.

And in the meantime, the segments of society that at first didn’t believe what they were hearing in the lead-up to the elections have doubts and suspicions that are now growing. It is now more and more clear that any economic turbulence that occurs anytime soon will be blamed on the government.

In addition to all the above, the weight of social media platforms has begun to be felt more and more strongly these days.

riticism coming from the European Union and the West — while slow and late — has begun to hit Ankara. EU Affairs Minister Mevlut ÇavuIoIlu, on a visit to Brussels, was accused of lying, and was not given some of the face time he was hoping for.

And so it is that the time has come to pay the “legitimacy bill” that ErdoIan had put off until after the elections. And the worst thing for the AKP is that the party no longer has the capital left to pay this bill because that capital was long ago consumed. Which explains where the tension is coming from.

The second reason for all the tension is a loss of trust. While some 43 percent of the Turkish people did actually cast their votes for the AKP, the fact remains that they did not do this because they actually believe the AKP is honest.

In fact, a significant portion of the 43 percent that voted for the AKP did so thinking, “Well, at least they work,” or, “At least our stability won’t be ruined.” By contrast, the AKP in previous elections picked up lots of votes because people actually believed in them, trusted them. In other words, the AKP has really become the lesser of two evils.

At the same time, the 57 percent that did not vote for the AKP in these recent elections decided not to do so because they simply do not trust the AKP.

There may be a wide variety of reasons for this lack of trust, but in the end, the shared feeling among this 57 percent is a lack of trust in not only the AKP, but ErdoIan in particular.

What we then have is, on one side, people who vote for the AKP despite a lack of faith in the party, but saying that it’s the lesser of two evils, and on the other side, the majority, which simply does not trust the party or its leader, and who thus did not vote for them.

It will be very difficult for ErdoIan and the AKP to turn this devastation around, and to rebuild trust and faith. The deficit of trust in the AKP, in fact, will only grow with each passing day.

So all of this is what is making the AKP ranks tense. It is also the reason that they’re talking (and writing) about revenge on those social groups who did not vote for them.

The third reason for all this tension is worry over whether or not they can carry on their current method of leadership. This, as far as I have seen, is really the greatest reason for the tension they are not sure how long they will remain in power with this model. The party feels that at any moment, people may flood the streets in protest, rising up against AKP tyranny. And they know that this would lead to their loss of power. In fact, fear of losing of power has turned the AKP media into a mass of living zombies, inhabiting a world of conspiracies.

They have begun to hallucinate. After all, as corruption and corrosion spread, hallucination becomes inescapable.

EMRE USLU (CihanToday’s Zaman)