Tens of thousands of members resigned from ruling AKP in months – columnist

Following the fracturing within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the aftermath of the Istanbul elections, some 60,000 members have resigned from the party, columnist Güven Gürkan Öztan wrote in left-wing daily BirGün

AKP membership used to open doors for Turkey’s citizens and was almost mandatory if one wanted to win large-scale public tenders or find a job for a relative, Öztan said, adding however that the AKP’s defeat in Turkey’s financial hub Istanbul and capital Ankara in the March 2019 local elections, the resources at the party’s disposal have shrunk considerably.

There is more rivalry regarding who gets a piece of the cake now, Öztan said, as the party elite is not willing to share.

As corruption scandals become unveiled one after the other, important names from the party resign to establish new parties, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to lack the strength to stop them, being a member of the AKP starts to come at a bigger cost, he said.

Erdoğan’s current support is less than the combination of his People’s Alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and his reputation for being the leader to unite the country’s conservative is being questioned, according to Öztan.

Erdoğan’s partner in the alliance, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has seen that some voters abandoning the AKP have flocked to his party, and with the understanding that the MHP will come out on top when the alliance fails, pushes harder, he said.

Those who see that the party is slowly sinking have started to abandon ship, Öztan said, with some media personalities and bureaucrats ending their support for the AKP.

Ministers the AKP imported from the private sector as they supposedly know how to get things done have made everything worse, Öztan said, as bureaucratic mechanisms the government was supposed to streamline are failing to fulfil the most basic of tasks, and the stability they promised gave way to a fractured right and a government at the whim of the MHP.

The root cause of current problems in the country is the presidential system, the columnist said.

Right-wing opposition, former interior minister Meral Akşener’s İYİ (Good) Party, founded by politicians who were discontent with the state of the MHP for the most part, and conservative-religious Felicity Party (SP) in particular, and possibly the new parties to fracture the right-wing coalition that is the AKP, all believe their party will be the key in the coming term, as Öztan explained.

CHP membership is rising, and its voter base has seen renewed enthusiasm since the local elections, but the party still hasn’t fully shaken off the AKP’s effect on the country, as many decisions in the party are made with the assumption that the majority of Turkey’s population is quite conservative, he said.