The AKP’s new government and its narrative of stability


Turkey’s new government is facing challenges similar to those it faced when it first took power in 2003. Yet still, in the middle of uncertainty, the AKP have been voted into their fourth term of governance in a bid to bring some stability back into the Turkish political arena.

After the 7 June 2015 elections resulted in Turkey’s first hung parliament since 1999, and proceeded with unsuccessful attempts to form a coalition government, a snap general election was called by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 24 august 2015 and took place on 1 November 2015 throughout the 85 electoral districts of Turkey. The November elections were the 25th general elections in the History of the Republic of Turkey and resulted in the Justice and Development Party (AKP) regaining a Parliamentary majority with 317 seats.

The victory of the AKP came as a shock, as the Party had lost the elections just five months earlier in the June elections, when it lost majority control in the legislature for the first time since it came to power in 2003. And although nobody saw the victory coming, the results show that the AKP is still a dynamic force and well in control of Turkish politics.

Stability of the AKP

Between March 2003 and June 2015, the AKP controlled a majority of seats in Turkey’s Parliament. But after the AKP’s loss of majority in June, it was suggested that the years of AKP dominance in Turkey were ending due to the termination of the rapid economic growth of the past decade -which had invigorated the AKP’s initial success, the on-going conflict in neighbouring Syria and the flood of refugees into the country – making the AKP’s foreign policy look ineffectual.

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However, when the AKP lost the elections in June, Turkey experienced some major upheaval. The 2013 ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a separatist group considered the most powerful militant Kurdish organization in Turkey, collapsed in July- renewing fighting in the conflict. Then during October, ISIS set off bomb in the capital, Ankara, killing more than 100 civilians in what was the largest terrorist attack in the country’s history.

The AKP’s continuation of a single-party rule has been argued to offer Turks a ‘narrative of stability’, which Erdoğan feels the national will favours. During the period of instability amid times of the hung parliament, the PKK killed two Turkish police officers in the city of Urfa, Turkish warplanes bombed PKK positions in south-eastern Turkey, PKK troops were sent into some dominated city’s and the PKK used IEDs to blow up military convoys. Two suicide bombers from the Islamic State then carried out a pair of bombings in Ankara, which is all surely to have weakened support for The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is the AKP’s main opposition.

As well as causing votes for HDP – who had previously benefitted from a surge of non-Kurdish support in the June election – to deplete, the attacks also drained the right wing opposition, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with some of its voters finding the AKP’s new stance on stability more appealing. The AKP is also a conservative Islamist party, and many civilians in Turkey, who are themselves conservatives, find that appealing.

The AKP’ new government 

Following President Erdoğan’s approval of the AK Party’s comeback after the 1 November elections, the party’s leader, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, was asked to form a new government. On 25 November 2015, Davutoğlu outlined his new government’s programme, and said that the new government aims to adopt a new constitution that will have a pro-freedom, human-focused nature, based on the principle of the separation of powers and checks-and-balance mechanisms.

The Prime Minister also stated that the new constitution will include a search for the most effective and healthiest administrative system that will allow Turkey to reach its targets on democratization and development by 2023. He also expressed that it is of critical importance to adopt a pluralistic and participatory administrative mode that functions efficiently with the new constitution and prevents the imposition of political tutelage on the government.

recep-tayyip-erdoganTurkey’s new government has also set the adoption of the presidential system as one of its top priorities. The new system will see the executive branch led by Erdoğan who will serve as both head of state and head of government. Davutoğlu believes that a presidential system with these aspects will be more suitable to Turkey’s political experience and future vision as well as lead to a more “efficient and dynamic” rule.

Davutoğlu also mentioned that his government will aim to introduce a constitution that upholds freedoms, replacing its current character, which is a legacy of Turkey’s 1980 military coup. Getting rid of the coup-era constitution has also been a long awaited desire of Erdoğan, who believes that the old constitution is no longer fit for purpose within the new Turkish government.

The future of the new government

With Turkey aiming to hold on to a united one-party government and a new presidential system, Erdoğan will be freer to pursue his ideal policies. One of the biggest political issues facing Erdoğan and other Turkish policy makers is the Kurdish question and the PKK conflict. Under the new system, it is likely that the Turkish government will aim to reduce fighting and revitalise the peace process with the Kurds.

The new presidential system is expected to reduce the political instabilities of a previously “undemocratic parliamentary system” and replace it with an effective and more suitable administrative government model that is more dynamic and better in line with the vision of a “new Turkey”.

Davutoğlu told reporters that there is a horizon before this government to march toward 2023. He said the party will fulfil all promises made, make structural reforms and work to draft a civilian constitution. The Prime Minister further stated that “the mission of this government is first of all to represent the nation; second, to carry the country to the future; and third, to make a new Turkey which surpasses the level of contemporary civilization”.