Date posted: November 18, 2013
“Very few people in Turkey could deny that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made a tremendous and positive transformation in the country.
Of course, part of this success is a result of the failures of the terrible opposition parties, which are far behind the ruling AKP in terms of advocating democratic values. Yet, all in all, the AKP has been a successful party, and it has been an asset for Turkey even though it could have definitely fared better in terms of democratization, transparency, rule of law, human rights, the Copenhagen criteria and EU reforms.
“We must accept that if we had the Republican People’s Party (CHP) or Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) instead of the AKP as the ruling party of the last decade, Turkey would be a less democratic country.
“Erdoğan started his AKP journey as a primus inter pares. In the beginning of the journey, the AKP was a party that was established by like-minded, leading post-Islamist leaders such as Erdoğan, Abdullah Gül, Bülent Arınç, Abdüllatif Şener, Cemil Çiçek, Abdülkadir Aksu, Ali Coşkun, Nevzat Yalçıntaş and others. In the beginning they could check and balance their leader. Today, only the president could be said to be keeping some of his initial check and balance power against Erdoğan, and even then it is only a fraction of the initial checks. This aspect of Erdoğan’s journey resembles Mustafa Kemal’s journey. He also started as a primus inter pares, but the success of the nation, Parliament and its army made Atatürk a leader without practical checks and balances.
“I am not really concerned much about Turkey, since it is almost impossible to continue authoritarian rule in today’s conditions for more than a few years. I hope he does not risk dividing his own party by insisting on having practically unbalanced and unchecked power, as demonstrated by his party’s presidential reform bid in Parliament, which made objectively pro-AKP experts such as Ergun Özbudun and Levent Köker very worried.”
The above paragraphs are from a piece which I wrote here exactly seven months ago on April 17, 2013. This was before the Gezi Park events. The Gezi events unfortunately proved me right, showing that Erdoğan is increasingly becoming a one-man show in his party and that this was a liability for the AKP. Exactly for this reason, during the Gezi incidents, several people within his own party, such as Gül and Arınç, openly disagreed with him. We thought that he had learned his lesson during Gezi Park but his blatant and insistently intrusive remarks on private homes has harmed his party yet again and has probably deepened the rift within the party.
Now, he is on it again with his insistence on trying to close down tutorial centers that belong to the private sector. Everybody knows that with this he is trying to punish the Hizmet movement, which has resisted pledging absolute loyalty to him. He is not very concerned about the local and general elections which his party will almost definitely win but he needs 50 plus percent to be elected as president. For this, he needs the staunch and loyal support of the Hizmet movement since he knows that there are more people who dislike him compared to those who like him. Yet, threats will not convince the movement. What is more, he is harming his own party by deepening the rift with his authoritarian and anti-private entrepreneurship attitude in this last case.
His personal ambitions and emotions are becoming a serious liability to his own party.
Source: Today's Zaman , November 15, 2013