Ankara, November 3, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Deniz Zeyrek – Hürriyet Daily News
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) scored an unexpected success in the Nov. 1, making a strong comeback after losing nine percentage points in the June 7 general election. In what came as a surprising victory even to its own deputies, the AKP managed to mobilize voters both inside Turkey and abroad.
Here is a list of 10 factors explaining how the AKP won the elections by a landslide.
- Strong candidates
The AKP congress was rescheduled for Sept. 12, allowing the party to welcome back a number of important figures who had withdrawn in June due to the AKP’s policy prohibiting MPs from running for parliament in three consecutive terms. Influential names including the economy tsar Ali Babacan, former Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım, former Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, former Labor Minister Faruk Çelik and former Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker all made it to the candidate list for the Nov. 1 election.
- Economic promises
Among the hottest issues in the run up to the June 7 election was the economic platform of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). In its manifesto for the Nov. 1 election, the AKP included an elaborated version of the CHP’s pledges. A strong economic cadre with well-known figures including Babacan, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek and former Finance Ministry Undersecretary Naci Ağbal also proved influential.
- President Erdoğan’s political maneuvering
In the aftermath of June 7, the opposition failed to counter the political maneuvers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP. This allowed the AKP to put its game plan into action.
- Demand for stability
The fact that the opposition parties failed to cooperate on a number of issues, despite winning a total 60 percent of the votes, played into the AKP’s hands. The election for a parliament speaker a key issue on which they failed, in addition to the failure to form a coalition government. This deadlock triggered the anxiety about “stability” of many voters after 13 years of single-party rule.
- Peace process recess
The peace process launched to find a political solution to the Kurdish question, instead of resorting to arms, was widely slammed by many Turkish nationalists. However, after Erdoğan put the process “in the freezer” and the AKP launched military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), previously discontented voters flocked to the AKP.
- Escalation of attacks by the PKK and ISIL
Terror attacks by the PKK drew harsh criticism from the public at large. The escalation of attacks by the PKK and ISIL strengthened voters’ search for political stability in a period when public security was being threatened.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) took a hit on Nov. 1 for its perceived failure to take a firmer stance against terrorism. The AKP, on the other hand, delivered a clear message by saying that instability caused by a coalition government could endanger security.
- Presidential system debate on hold
The AKP centered its campaign on changing the parliamentary system into a presidential system before the June 7 election. A majority of the Turkish population is against such a shift, so the AKP lost votes.
This time around, the AKP included its plans to change the system in its manifesto but refrained from raising the issue. Instead, its economic pledges were brought to the fore.
- The AKP ran an efficient campaign
The AKP ran a more efficient campaign than its competitors. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu worked harder than the other leaders and local party organizations were well-prepared.
- Role of municipalities and the media
Unlike other political parties, the AKP benefited most from the services of the state and municipalities. It also took advantage of Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT, which gave the AKP more extensive coverage than any of its competitors, as well as a number of media organizations that staunchly support the ruling party.
- Convincing resentful former supporters
The AKP failed to mobilize an important portion of its supporters for the June 7 election, while some went to the polls but cast invalid votes. On Nov. 1, however, the AKP won a clear majority of the votes from citizens both living in Turkey and abroad.
Source: The Journal of Turkish Weekly