What is left of the AKP?

After two-and-a-half months of Turkey running on empty and failing to form a coalition, the country is now set on the worst possible path to a new election, wasting a valuable year.

It is the self-destructive result of harsh, illegitimate political engineering, many agree, by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has insisted on pulling the strings behind the scenes.

I argued in an article for The Guardian newspaper soon after the June 7 election that Erdoğan had “lost.” What seems to have been staged since the election is simply a set of moves that will only extend his period with pretensions of executive power, and deepen the systemic crisis Turkey has tumbled into.

It is not only Erdoğan who proceeds on the losing path. It is what happens to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), once a symbol of hope and democratic change, under his constant misguidance. What’s left of the AKP, as of 2015, equals a null; and far worse, its state of being “devoid of vision” leaves Turkey once more with a huge crater in the center of the nation’s politics.

To understand the ideological implosion of the AKP, beginning soon after the key referendum in late-2010, I’d like to share some excerpts of the pledges to remind you of what its party program (still) claims.

This will make comparisons with Turkey today much easier.

Here are some of the pledges that are still online:

“With its honest, dynamic, high-principled cadres and a political perspective to open the horizons of our country, our party’s objective is to put an end to the troubles suffered by our people for several years…”

“One of the main principles of our party is the proverb, ‘Unless everyone is free, no one is free’. Our party considers as one of its most important tasks, the assurance of democratization by placing the individual at the center of all its policies, and to provide and protect fundamental human rights and freedoms.”

“Our party constitutes a ground where the unity and the integrity of the Republic of Turkey, the secular, democratic, social state of law, and the processes of civilianization, democratization, freedom of belief and equality of opportunity are considered essential.”

“Deficiencies destroying societies and governments, such as decadence, corruption, irregularities, profiteering, favoritism, inequality in front of the law, inequality of opportunities, racism, partisanship, [and] despotism are the areas where our party will fight against most intensely.”

“No individual or institutional oppression is acceptable.”

“The most significant element of trust in a society is the belief of individuals living in the society that their rights and freedoms are respected… [It] is the basic condition for the establishment of social peace and stability, and for the acceptance of a democratic political regime by the people.”

“The opinions and suggestions of the volunteer establishments, non-governmental organizations active in the area of human rights shall be taken into consideration; a tight cooperation shall be established between the government and these organizations.”

“The freedoms of thought and expression shall be built up on the basis of international standards, thoughts shall be freely expressed, and differences shall be regarded as an asset.”

“One of the essential conditions of contemporary democracies is the existence of the free press. Therefore, the entire legal framework regarding the media shall be revised, while bans and penalties against the media’s freedom of expression and not befitting the requirements of democratic social arrangements shall be lifted beginning with the Constitution. The freedoms of the written press and visual media shall be meticulously protected and monopolization shall not be allowed.”

“The freedom to seek one’s rights and the right to be justly tried shall be achieved with all its elements. Ways for individuals to seek their rights shall be facilitated.”

“Practices such as torture, death under custody, missing people, murders whose perpetrators are unknown, which are unacceptable in a democratic state of law[,] shall be seriously prosecuted, transparency shall be ensured. Complaints of all citizens in this subject shall be considered, the necessary arrangements shall be made to provide deterrence, those responsible shall not go without punishment.”

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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