Turkey’s ruling party, the AKP, has dominated politics for two decades. Photo/Reuters
ANKARA – The Justice and Development Party or Adalet ve Kalkınma Partis (AKP) brought Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan back to power in the second round of presidential elections in May 2023. The AKP also returned to control of parliament with 266 seats in the last parliamentary election. That makes the AKP control the executive and legislature.
The AKP has struggled with Erdogan in facing various crises and has always offered solutions in his leadership. They also pay attention not only to national issues, but also to foreign policy by developing positive initiatives and rhetoric to unite the nation.
Here are 5 facts about the AKP which has been in power for two decades and again won parliamentary elections and led Erdogan to win the presidential election again.
1. Have Loyal Members
Until early 2023, the number of AKP members reached 11.24 million. The party, which was founded in 2001, is the only party that has equal support across all provinces in Turkey.
AKP members are also staunch supporters of Erdogan. This cannot be separated because they are middle class citizens who benefited during Erdogan’s government.
When the AKP came to power, they started massive infrastructure projects that provided lots of jobs. Gross domestic product per capita more than tripled during his first decade in power, from USD 3,600 in 2002 to USD 11,700 in 2012. The PPA was able to increase economic growth, lift people out of poverty and improve access to government services, such as health care .
However, in recent years, the economic crisis hit Türkiye. Runaway inflation and currency devaluation have sent prices soaring in recent years. But, supporters of the AKP and Erdogan remain loyal. Why? They want stability both politically and economically.
2. Carrying the Islamic Awakening
The party founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has an ideology of nationalism and Pan-Islamism or Islamic revival and has dominated Turkish politics since the last two decades.
The rise in popularity of the AKP in the early 2000s also led to a revival of political Islam in the country. Many Muslims remain loyal to Erdogan for making religion a bigger part of Turkish politics and society. At the same time, it alienated the more progressive sections of society and secular people who wanted to keep religion out of politics.
“Erdogan has distanced many groups from secularists to Kurdish nationalists to liberals to social democrats to the left,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute. This is because the AKP prioritizes Muslim citizens. “When you add them up, they are about half the population of Turkey.”
3. Good at Using Momentum
Political politics expert Ali Carkoglu says the AKP and Erdogan have the momentum behind them in this election. “Erdogan maintains his support base in the heart of Anatolia; although he lost some support in the southeast, he still held on to the central Anatolian province. He has also maintained a credible level of support in major cities as well,” Carkoglu told Al Jazeera.