What are the reasons of Erdogan’s electoral success?


The supporters of the AKP who often use the term “New Turkey” believe that the 12-year rule of Prime Minister Erdogan has opened a new phase in Turkish history.

The supporters of the AKP who often use the term “New Turkey” believe that the 12-year rule of Prime Minister Erdogan has opened a new phase in Turkish history.

This is because the country has come a long way in the last decade in areas such as health-care, infrastructure, fiscal discipline, inflation, municipal services and civil-military relations. Despite the opposition and Western criticism (mainly the United States and the European Union) of the last months over the corruption scandals and the bans imposed by the Government on social media like Twitter and YouTube, the AKP won the elections as what really matters for most of its voters are economic services and living standards.

The AKP voters come from the largest segments of Turkish society and they have mainly conservative backgrounds: the urban-rural poor as well as the lower-middle classes aspiring to upper-middle class status. In their eyes, bread and butter problems take precedence over the other issues (e.g. twitter ban, political freedoms and the independence of the media). As a result, it should not be surprising that Erdogan will keep winning elections as long as the economy performs reasonably well and adequate socio-economic services are provided to these large segments of society.

Weak opposition.The results of the local elections have proved the absence of the opposition parties (Republican CHP and Nationalist Movement Party MHP) in the central Anatolia. Indeed, the main opposition CHP will unlikely to present a credible challenge to the AKP Government at the June 2015 parliamentary elections. Forthcoming elections. Turkish electoral race will continue in the forthcoming period with presidential elections scheduled for August 2014, and general elections for 2015

Further polarization is likely ahead of the presidential elections. Erdogan will unlikely become more conciliatory ahead of the presidential elections. Indeed, his recent speeches demonstrate this tendency. The local election’s results made Erdogan more confident, and this may encourage him to undertake a harsher retaliation against his adversaries, including social media, secular businesses, critical media outlets, and the Gülen movement. On the other hand, the Turkish society remains polarized, and despite the ruling party’s victory, governability might increasingly become an issue for Erdogan, particularly given the fact that he is likely to continue to use elevated rhetoric. This may continue attracting negative reactions against Erdogan both from the West and from inside Turkey in the form of public protests.

Kurdish problem. Finally, there is the all-important Kurdish question, which will probably determine the future of Turkish democracy in the long run and Erdogan’s political fortunes in the shorter term. Given ongoing talks with the Government, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP, mainly Kurdish) have understandably bet their future on the AKP. This will enhance Erdogan’s chances in the presidential race. However, the Kurdish question is a double-edged sword for the AKP: winning Kurdish votes amounts to losing Turkish nationalist (CHP) and ultranationalist (MHP) ones. However, Erdogan might attempt to turn his electoral victory into a real intention toward addressing Kurdish discontent in Turkey with a new sense of urgency. In this regard, the so-called “democratization package” (as part of the peace process with the Kurds) is an important step.

Next steps.

The AKP’s recent electoral victory is important in view of the forthcoming presidential elections.  The AKP will likely succeed in having its candidate elected President in the first direct presidential election (most likely the current PM Erdogan) and it will increase also its chances of winning a 4th term in Government at the legislative election.

Political risk – Economic impact:

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