In absence of democracy, mass resignations rock Erdoğan’s AKP

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been hit by a series of resignations in the light of political ambiguity and crises besieging the party’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The resignations, sources told The Arab Weekly, come as a protest against the growing control of Erdoğan’s loyalists over the AKP and the absence of democracy within the party, at a time when there is a need to prepare for the general elections scheduled for next year.

According to Turkish media reports, the AKP has turned into an arena of conflict between different camps, with opposition to Erdoğan spreading at a time when his loyalists are expanding their control and preparing reports targeting opponents. Such a tense climate, media reports say, led to many resignations and at times to mass resignations, such as has occurred in western Aydın province.

The Turkish Zaman newspaper has recently reported the resignation of 872 members of the AKP in Aydın.

The newspaper said the party members announced their resignations last week, including the head of the women's office in the province, Emil Oz Akmazlar, saying they rejected "the way the party is run and being harassed."

The newspaper quoted informed sources as saying that "there is serious conflict within the party in the entire province of AydIn," noting that "more resignations are expected in the coming days."

Aydın province, is a stronghold of the Justice and Development Party. Mass resignations from this local branch led by Emil Oz Akmazlar coincided with Erdoğan's visit to the area on Saturday when he inaugurated the museum of former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes.

Turkish journalist Yavuz Beydar said that "the resignation of 872 people all at once is somewhat unusual when it comes to the AKP, but it is also not a big surprise given the turmoil spreading across the conservative political sectors in Turkish politics." Baydar said he was expecting that "the divisions within the party will expand simultaneously as the economic crisis in Turkey deepens.”

He added that he was not yet aware of the reason behind the mass resignations, although Akmazlar had previously hinted at mismanagement and "abuses" at the local level. The latest accusation refers to the mistreatment of women, a common abuse which is widely spread across the AKP and its nationalist partner, the MHP.

"Another main reason may be that the main rival of the AKP and the MHP, the IYI (Good) Party led by Meral Akşener, has increased its efforts to attract people from both parties," he continued.

Baydar revealed that there are reports that about 40 AKP deputies are holding closed-doors talks with the break-away Future Party led by former AKP Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, which seeks to attract the AKP's supporters and the remaining leaders who are not loyal to Erdoğan.

Over recent months, Davutoğlu and Erdoğan's opponents are expanding their efforts to form a political alliance that will be able to defeat Erdoğan in the upcoming elections.

During the past few days, the head of the Future Party held the Turkish president responsible for the currency crisis by adopting "a policy of stubbornness," alleging that the government "is trying to cover up the economic catastrophe by exploiting our religious values."

Erdoğan often criticises high interest rates, in an attempt to placate a large segment of Turks who view them as usury, which is forbidden in Islam.

(A version of this article was originally published by the Arab Weekly and is reproduced by permission.)


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