Turkey’s AK Party celebrates its 14th anniversary

Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) celebrates its 14th anniversary

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Prime Minister and AK Party leader Ahmet Davutoglu speaks in 14th foundation anniversary of his party

Turkish Prime Minister and leader of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spoke at the founding anniversary celebration of AK Party in capital Ankara on Friday, and congratulated all party members and citizens for their long-term support.

Referring to the operations launched by Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), Davutoglu said that they don’t play it safe against terror attacks, and concern for political maneuvers in this political atmosphere would not factor into the equation.

“If someone else were in our shoes, they may say that we don’t take risks in this process. But our principle since Aug. 14, 2001 is clear: Like our founding leader [President Recep Tayyip Erdogan], we pay the price if needed but we don’t make our nation pay a price,” said Davutoglu.

Turkish Armed Forces started to launch operations in Turkey, Syria and Iraq against outlawed militant group PKK and ISIS. Both groups are recognised as terrorist organisations by Turkey, NATO, the US and EU.

In the June 7 general election, the AK Party was elected as the first party with 40.8 percent of the vote, but this was not enough to form a one-party government.

The temporary government led by Davutoglu held negotiations with other parties in the parliament, while operating the military operations against militant groups at the same time.

Short history of AK Party

In 1969, a politician, Necmettin Erbakan, presented a new political manifesto named “National Vision.” Unlike the other Turkish right-wing movements, the National Vision focused on public’s traditional and religious values.

Erbakan presented technological development as a vital target. He established the National Order Party (MNP) as the leading party of the developing Turkish-Islamic movement.

The Turkish courts closed all variants of the National Vision. In 2001, the last one, the Virtue Party (FP) was closed on the pretext of “guarding secularism.”

A group of younger members called “reformists” left the movement and established Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on August 14. A new era had begun.

The economic burden of the devastating earthquakes of 1999 weighed heavily on Turkey. A political crisis between then President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and the governing three party coalition triggered the worst economic crisis in Turkish history.

Mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in jail because he recited a poem. The coordination between Erdogan, Abdullah Gul, Bulent Arinc and other young politicians who separated from National Vision led to the first victory of AK Party in 2002.

Erdogan was the beloved leader, Gul was his loyal friend. Gul won the general election and left the prime ministry to Erdogan.

Although the AK Party won the election, non-political actors were still powerful. The AK Party spent its entire 13 year existence struggling against these actors. On April 16, 2007, Erdogan put Gul forward as a candidate for presidential elections. The secularists were ready to accept this as an attempt to “capture the secular state.”

The Turkish army published a memorandum on April 27 against AK Party. This was an open signal for a military coup. Erdogan’s statement on the issue became a phenomenon: “I will step up onto the tanks if needed!” The army returned to its barracks. Turkish politics had defeated the military intervention for the first time in the history of the country.

On March 14, 2008, a prosecutor filed a closure case against AK Party. He accused AK Party of becoming a center for “anti-secular activities.” The supreme court decided to not close the party, after an intensive period of uncertainty, the Turkish government officially launched the Kurdish Resolution Process at the beginning of 2009.

Turkey reelected the AK Party in 2011 for the third time with 49.8 percent of the vote. The AK Party was ready to take more determined steps to resolve Turkey’s long lasting problems.

The government negotiated with the jailed leader of outlawed militant group PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK terrorists started to leave Turkey and lay down arms in early 2013. A few weeks later, the mass “Gezi Park Occupation” protests originated as an environmental movement, then evolved into anti-government protests. After the protests, a more complex body known as “parallel state” started a struggle against AK Party government.

At the end of 2013, a group of prosecutors launched an operation secretly against the top senior members of the government. Meantime, an unidentified person or persons were publishing illegal wiretapping records, even including the records of a National Security Meeting.

Erdogan declared this group as a parallel state led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and promised to struggle against this group. The nation elected Erdogan as the first popularly elected president with 52 percent of the vote. An era called AK Party-without-Erdogan began.

At the end of 2015 general election on June 7, the AK Party  gained 41 percent of the vote and was unable to form a government without a coalition.

While the negotiations between political parties continued, the outlawed PKK declared the breaking of the ceasefire on July 11. The militants started to kill civilians and security officials. Turkish jets started to conduct operations to bomb the locations of militants. Erdogan declared after PKK attacks that the Resolution Process is over.

Meanwhile, the negotiations between the political parties to form a coalition government has failed. The leaders announced an early election appears to be imminent. The AK Party under the leadership of Ahmet Davutoglu will campaign for one party government one more time.