Turkey’s ruling party promises resignations, big changes to rejuvenate its ranks

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set for a period of renewal with sweeping changes to the party’s organisations and resignations likely, AKP Deputy Chairman Erkan Kandemir said on Monday.

The ruling party’s losses of major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, in local elections this year showed the need to renew the party before the next full party congress in 2021, left-wing news site Sözcü quoted Kandemir as saying.

“We have need for a renewal. In the coming days there will be changes, and a number of resignations,” Kandemir said.

“Some of our colleagues will resign from their current positions and switch to different roles,” he said.

The party aims to bring in new faces that represent all sections of society by augmenting the number of women and younger members in the AKP’s organisational structure, pro-government Daily Sabah quoted Kandemir as saying.

AKP district congresses are due to finish next April, and provincial congresses will take place between June and late September. The party will select its delegates before the grand congress, which is scheduled early in 2022.

A sweeping cabinet reshuffle was rumoured after the AKP lost five of Turkey’s largest provinces in the local elections this year, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stuck with his cabinet despite mounting unrest within the ruling party.

Dissenters say the AKP has taken an authoritarian turn, freezing party officials out of the decision-making process. Some have complained about a clique that has formed around Erdoğan’s son-in-law, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, which is believed to be behind media smear campaigns against opposing factions in the ruling party.

The AKP has also suffered a wave of resignations since the local elections, with many defectors thought to be coalescing around two new political movements that are being set up by former AKP heavyweights.