I've written numerous times that both the Justice and DevelopmentParty (AKP's) narrative and the party itself are on the verge ofwearing out. I've said that the AKP has sustained a transformation towhere it can no longer be considered a party. Regarding its coalitionwith the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), I've said that if any partyis going to disintegrate as a result of this coalition, it will bethe AKP, and that it will be finished off before the MHP. When Istarted to write and say these things, I wasn't referring to a futureor a possibility, but to a process that has started and is currentlyin progress. Of course, there have been many people that have sharedthe same foresights and have made similar evaluations for both thesame and different reasons. Very valuable analyses have arisen, somebased on the economic background in Turkey and the rest of the world,some based on the dynamics of society, and some based oninternational balances. Some interpretations have tried to remainobjective by following available statistics and trends, others byfollowing exceedingly optimistic expectations. Beginning from avariety of starting dates, turning points at which the AKP governmenthas created crises for both itself and the country have beenidentified.
Throughout the period in which these evaluations have been madeand heavily debated (the past decade) there have been a total of 11elections including referendums, presidential, parliamentary andlocal elections. Those who atrribute extra significance between thenumber of votes a party is able to get in an election and thedestruction of its political organization and the end of itsexistence have used the results of all of these elections tocriticize the notion that the AKP was in a crisis. Factions bothclose to the ruling party and opposed to it—for differentreasons—have said that the AKP consolidated its position. Despiteoccassional setbacks, due to the fact that the party protected itsvote and its voter support and even solidified its voting block,there are those who have suggested that it is not the politicalstructures but the political sphere that has changed. Those whoinsist that the party has a secret political Islamist agenda arguethat with its changes to the system and its transformation ofsociety, it has become an institutionalized party-state structure.
Due to the results of this year's local elections and particularlythe rerun of the Istanbul election, these discussions have gained anew dimension. Arguments that appeared to have been supported withstatistical results have been retracted or reshaped. The number ofthose who say that the AKP government has begun to experience acrisis has increased. In particular, those close to the party havebegun to agree with these evaluations. Beyond that, it appears thatthere are two new parties that have come from within the AKP. Wellprior to the elections—we can go back to the pre-coalition electiondebates—the AKP's troubles were sensed by Erdoğan and his closecircles. As it may be remembered, Erdogan referring to “metalfatigue within the party” or “needing to act in accordance withpolitical realities” is what paved the way for the coalitiondebate. After the election, rumors that “appropriate responses tothe message received” would be undertaken were nourished as such,and were met with high interest as a result. Following a long periodof inactivity, the rumors that“some things are going to happen”once again increased.
It must not be forgotten that the economic and political grounds that constitute a political party, the need for class representation and the dynamics that support that do not always coincide and most of the time do not even overlap with the party's voter base. This is not something unique to countries like Turkey where democracy has not completely been established, it is also the case in countries with the tradition of an entrenched parliamentary system.
In terms of economic and social interests, the mass parties under the control of the dominant classes are able to gain votes from circles whose interests do not at all match with the political line they represent. This is because voting behavior exists inside a strong interaction with a number of variables apart from the dynamics that produce political actions. Also, the cyclical situation and temporary positions can create preferences that go beyond political boundaries. Most of all, for project parties like the Motherland Party (ANAP) that emerged after the 1980 military coup and the AKP, which replaced the center that collapsed in the 1990's amid serial crises, this situation is even more apparent. Just as there is an angle between the apparent mission of these parties and the roles in the formulas presented, there are different lines and breaking points among their circles of support.
The mass parties created by representative democracy and aparliamentary system sustain their existences by creating politicalillusions and harmonizing internal dynamics that affix parts whichare difficult to hold together and soften the structural weaknessesof the system. For this reason a party's structural character,flexible ability, and durability are more important than howeffective and in front it is. The organizational strength, weight ofdiscourse, advantages of power, comfort of representation and eventhe possiblity of hegemony cannot alone but only all together createa common result. Apart from certain characterğistics like the levelof internal democracy, the weight of the leader and the determinantof the ideological direction, a party's fate is determined by whetheror not it has an independent political wealth and (whether symbolicor not) it grants it permission and is open to it. The problemtoday—actually, for years—that the AKP has is the fact that itcould not change its qualification as a project party or ensure theprevalence and effectiveness of its organization, remaining stuntedin spite of its widespread base. Since it could not develop beyondthe appartus of a power project, it is unable to separate itself fromthe crisis of power and cannot develop a solution that could resultin a cure.
Lately there has been an intense debate from both within and outside of the AKP in terms of whether or not anything will come out of the party initatives arising from within the AKP. However, what most likely should be argued is whether anything will come out of the AKP at all at this point.
In fact this is the only argument that the new party initiatives are leaning on at this point. It may be thought that Erdoğan, who for some reason refuses to make revisions or innovations that appear to be postponed to the convention process, has remained inactive due to increased indeciveness resulting from a number of reasons alongside being aware of an increased sense of insolubility.The fact that the AKP still comfortably gets above 30% of the vote and that Erdoğan enjoys support of more than 40% of voters does not change this reality: A number of issues can be discussed concerning all of the existing parties, however at this point nothing can come from the AKP, which not only is unable to solve the country's problems, it also no longer has the ability to restore itself. Just like all stunted political structures and personalities, those who are increasingly weak internally only attempt to solve their problems by projecting them externally.
*This abridged article first appeared on GazeteDuvar on September 4, 2019