Turkey’s ruling AKP now paralysed, says leading pollster

Turkey’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) is declining and will find it difficult to recover from its current state of paralysis, said the head of Turkey's leading pollster Konda.

Turkey’s proportion of undecided voters has reached 40 percent, most of whom are former AKP supporters that have become disillusioned with the party, Bekir Ağırdır told the Independent Turkish newspaper.

Ağırdır’s assessment follows one of the AKP’s greatest electoral defeats in its 17 years in power in the March 31 local elections, in which it lost the mayoral votes in five of Turkey’s most populous provinces, including the financial hub of Istanbul and capital Ankara. The upset increased reports of a rift within the party, and former AKP heavyweight Ali Babacan, who had served as deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, last week resigned from the AKP and announced plans for a new political movement

Ağırdır said the current 51 percent to 49 percent support ratio between the country’s ruling party and the opposition would be altered by Babacan’s new party.

"The mechanism we know as the AKP is paralysed. The important legs of that mechanism were the party organisation and its success. Both have been paralysed. The raison d’être of the AKP is now to strive to prolong the rule of its leader,’’ Ağırdır said.

Speaking on Babacan, who is widely lauded for successfully steering Turkey’s economy during the early years of AKP rule, Ağırdır said Turkey would have to wait and see what the former deputy prime minister had in store and that he had a difficult task ahead of him.

"We are faced with three Turkeys. One which is the large cities which are economically developed and now concerned about the law and freedoms, another which is the central and Black Sea regions which are trying to develop and lastly eastern and southeastern Turkey, which are entirely underdeveloped,’’ Ağırdır told the Independent. "Turkey needs a political programme which encompasses all three.’’