When a newspaper announced the death of American humorist and writer Mark Twain, he replied in a letter: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” This anecdote is used by U.S. politicians to refute rumors against them. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can also use it if he delivers a speech in front of Arab journalists and politicians, who rushed to announce his political death after election results last Sunday.
The AK Party (AKP), which ruled Turkey for the last 12 years, has clearly declined, but he is still in a leading position, being the former prime minister with the biggest parliamentary bloc. The three largest parties behind AKP can form a coalition government, but it would not last long. That means new elections would take place in less than a year, and AKP would return to power with the majority of votes.
This is the opinion of its supporters and many analysts in Istanbul, who even suggest the election results are a plot by Erdogan to expose the opposition’s inability to run the country. Moreover, his party is the most widespread, disciplined and obedient.
The AK Party (AKP), which ruled Turkey for the last 12 years, has clearly declined, but he is still in a leading position, being the former prime minister with the biggest parliamentary blocJamal Khashoggi
The party or the president (there is no difference between them) lost this round but they will use it to be freed from a three-term limit commitment only they took upon themselves and is supposed to revitalize the party cadres and motivate young blood.
Therefore, in these elections Erdogan lost around 70 founding party leaders, including economic policy-maker Ali Babacan and renowned orator Tha. However, they will make a strong comeback in early elections without prejudice to the party’s commitment.
A lesson to the voters?
AKP is counting on this being a lesson to the voters who abandoned it and woke up the next day to a decline in the lira and in the stock exchange. Newspapers have started publishing reports questioning the future of big economic projects that were introduced by the party and that provided jobs, wealth and a middle class.
A leading party figure told me: “Turkish people forgot who brought all this prosperity, with a new generation that is taking this stability for granted and forgetting how their fathers lived.” He also highlighted the political instability and economic difficulties prior to the rise of AKP. This confidence and arrogance is one of the party’s faults that the opposition is constantly criticizing and that must be resolved by AKP.
I witnessed a debate between a deputy who lost in the elections, and a young researcher and journalist close to the party, about the necessity for self-reflection within AKP over the loss of many voters. The debate intensified when someone said Erdogan interfered with everything and people were fed up of him.
The journalist responded: “We all know that he interferes with everything and that he is the most influential. It is not important how we, his supporters, see him as he cheers us up and makes us feel he is a strong leader, but we have to listen to others. Impression is sometimes stronger than the truth.” The shock of the election results has raised the voice of the youth and generated a willingness for dialogue within the party. Its President Ahmed Dawood Oglu has promised change.
Turkish politicians will struggle and plot against each other but only through political means, without interference from the army or intelligence services. The Turkish state is stable. During the ongoing transitional period and until the country returns to AKP rule, the latter will reduce its involvement in the region in favor of internal developments and organizing itself for the next elections.
Regional events will not stop, but with more robust Saudi policies there is no need to worry. Libya’s crisis has started to fade, Yemen is Saudi business, and Iraq does not want any interference now.
However in Syria, Turkey has an important role to play as events there are accelerating, especially in the north, whereas in the south Saudi Arabia and Jordan are fulfilling their duties. When north meets south, someone must call Erdogan and ask him to accelerate what has been agreed upon. He is still headmaster after all.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on June 18, 2015.
Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi
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