Daily Sabah, Turkey
Dec 31 2014

Understanding the AK Party

PublishedDecember 31, 2014

Having accompanied Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoÄ?lu during his visit to
three Anatolian cities last weekend, I would like to share my
impressions of the cities, hoping that it could aid in the
understanding of the nature of the significant social and political
transformations experienced in Turkey. We visited the cities of Konya,
Hatay and Gaziantep where the Justice and Development Party (AK Party)
organized its provincial congresses and made changes in organizations
starting with the provincial chairmen - a common practice during every
pre-election period. Those who expected vacillation and fracturing in
the AK Party after the party's strong leader, Recep Tayyip ErdoÄ?an,
became president, are watching the process with greater impatience.
Monitoring the AK Party so closely is an outcome of the opposition
parties' failure in becoming an alternative to the ruling party. The
AK Party, so to speak, is competing with itself and the main
opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) does not go beyond
consolidating pathological "ErdoÄ?an hatred," which is actually
nourished by the elite circles' resistance to change. People do not
change their preferences in the face of this aspiration, which is
based on negativity and prioritizes contact with power groups rather
than reaching out to the public. What I observed in all three cities
was that the AK Party completed its institutionalization and DavutoÄ?lu
was welcomed with great love. The AK Party organization has turned
into a huge political machine that runs smoothly. The fact that
ErdoÄ?an climbed the political ladder starting at the bottom of the
organization and that he has never severed ties with the people among
whom he stood out certainly contributed to this success. As for the
sociological aspect of this success, it is obvious that the AK Party
is the central party in Turkey. My observations in the three cities
confirm my previous ones. The party has transformed into a structure
that encapsulates every section living in Turkey. It has managed to
produce a common identity for all segments of society including
nationalists, Islamists, housewives, non-Muslims, workers and
provincial elites.

People satisfy their need for a nonviolent political cause with the
vision of this party. This broad vision does not only enable people to
look at global problems from a broader perspective, but it also allows
living more freely and prosperously in the country and satisfies their
need for self-realization. It is very important for people that Turkey
democratizes, the middle class gains strength, the country attains a
position in the world as a more powerful country using its influence
on such matters as the Israel-Palestine conflict and that Turkey saved
the lives of 2 million Syrian refugees.

The political struggle gained credibility with the AK Party, which
boosted aspirations for politics and enabled all radicalism to
transform. The gains achieved in the past 12 years and the fights that
were won with politics disgraced the reputation of violence and
radicalism. So, Islamists, nationalists, Alevis or Armenians can find
something meaningful for themselves in this party.

Actually, what is experienced implies a perfect role model not only
for Turkey, but also for all Middle Eastern countries and oppressed
people. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was welcomed with great enthusiasm
in the congress held in DavutoÄ?lu's hometown of Konya. DavutoÄ?lu
ingeniously adapted ardent slogans to peace and political solutions.
He interrupted the saying, "Let those who do not love you die," and
said, "You know I am a teacher. Let me tell you this. Let nobody die,
let everybody live as they wish, let those who hate us understand our
way, let them be alright."

During his address to the hectic crowd, Meshaal said how they were
impressed by the AK Party's success in civil politics and underlined
"democratic politics." The AK Party has gone far beyond an ordinary
political party. Perhaps, it would guide the emergence of
democracy-based public administrations in the Islamic world. This
characteristic of the AK Party could be what distresses hegemonic