Nergis Demirkaya/ DUVAR

Following  a number major defeats in this year’s local elections, particularly in Istanbul and Ankara, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has began the process for its 7th Extraordinary Congress, in which the party seeks to renew itself. The congress will consist of two wings: one will be involved with instructing certain provincial party leaders to resign, while the other will seek out new provincial leaders and executives. 

According to AKP sources, a process of rapid change in the party was expected following the March 31 local elections, and the June 23 elections in Istanbul that took place after the results in March were cancelled by the country’s supreme election board.

However, the party instead opted for a “healthy and qualified process of change spread out over time that will identify the party’s structural problems rather than an emotional decision.” In order for this to happen, the congress process and the renewal process of the party’s provincial and district leaderships will be spread out over the course of a year. 

Following this decision, the party set out to work on initiatives concerning the leadership in every city in the country, conducting meetings with each city’s parliamentarians, youth and women branches, civil society organizations and local tradesmen, later producing satisfaction surveys. 

Afterward, regional party organizations drew up reports based on their findings, resulting in the resignations of seven provincial party leaders within two weeks, with speculation that more resignations will follow. 

Two opposition parties founded by former AKP founders, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former Economy Minister Ali Babacan is also expected to affect the resignation process of the provincial and local AKP leadership. As both parties are expected to be officially established by the end of this year, it is expected that the resignation of AKP officials will increase, as those figures join the new parties, of which have been the subject of much debate. 

Expectations also emerged following the local elections in March of this year that there would be changes made to the Presidential Cabinet, though Erdoğan has not done so in the ensuing seven months. AKP sources indicate that following the party’s budget discussions, up to 4-5 cabinet members could be replaced. There is speculation that former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım could be tapped for a vice presidential-esque role. 

On the congressional calendar, 970 district congresses are expected to take place up until April 2020, while the provincial congresses will occur between June and September of next year.