www.akparti.org.tr – Justice and Development Party (AKP) or Turkish AKP (AK Party) that came to power in Turkey during the 2002 general election. Given its non-confessional word, the AKP has drawn large support from non-secular Turks. Many parts of Turkish society have objected that it has Islamist agenda which would weaken the secular basis of Turkey.
Background and Formation:
The success of the AKP at the beginning of the 2000s can be traced to the Welfare Party (WP), an Islamic party founded in 1983, that took root in the 1990s. The WP has won a smashing victory during parliamentary elections in 1995, being helped by Islam’s the presence in Turkish life in the 1980s and 90s, as shown by changes in the dress and appearance, segregation of sexes, the growth of Islamic schools and banks and support for Sufi orders.
Nevertheless, the Turkish constitutional court outlawed the WP in January 1998 on charges of undermining the secular order. A number of its members joined the newly founded Virtue Party (VP), another Islamic group, but it was also banned in June 2001.
Early Political Tensions:
The friction between the Turkish secularist parties and the AKP was heightened when in 2007 the parliament ‘s attempts to elect Gull as President of Turkey were thwarted by a boycott of the opposition. The early general elections in July of that year, in response to the stalemate that ensued, gave AKP an overwhelming victory. Gull was then re-elected as President’s candidate and elected to the position by parliament on 28 August 2007. A constitutional referendum modified the presidency ‘s electoral mechanism to direct elections later that year.
In early 2008, when the parliament passed an amendment that removed the ban on head scarves — a long-challenged outward symbol of religion — on university campuses, the AKP and its secular opposers threaten again. Opponents of the PK revived their charges of undermining Turkey’s secular order, and the Constitutional Court agreed in March to consider a case asking for the dissolution of AKP and the banning for five years of political life of hundreds of party leaders, including Erdogan. In July 2008, the court ruled narrowly against the dissolution of the group but reduced substantially its public funding.
Expansion of Power:
In September 2010, in a national referendum, the AKP succeeded by adopting a package of constitutional changes proposed by the party. The package contained reforms to make the military more accountable and implement the statutory authority to select judges to civilian courts. Opponents of the referendum accused the AKP of seeking to extend its control by the military and judicial independence.
The AKP continued to pursue constitutional amendments after the referendum. The party vowed to replace Turkey’s current constitution with a new one that would promote political rights during its campaign for parliamentary elections in early 2011. The AKP won legislative elections in June 2011 and gained a strong majority in the Grand National Assembly and a third term as Erdogan’s Prime Minister. But the AKP did not have a two-thirds vote to write a new Constitution unilaterally.
Erdogan retired as Prime Minister in August 2014, because AKP rules prevented him from seeking another term. He was succeeded as the foreign minister by Ahmet Davutoglu from the AKP stalwart. Erdogan remained in public life, championing and winning the president’s ceremonial function. Yet it was soon clear that Erdogan was pressing for constitutional reforms that would extend the presidency’s powers. Erdogan and the AKP critics objected to what they perceive to be the increasingly oppressive policies of the party, evidenced during the 2013 government’s repression of the radical protest movement and its various prosecutions of independent journalists.
In June 2015, for the first time since its creation the AKP has not secured a parliamentary majority and obtained just 41% of the votes during the general electoral process. The results were generally regarded as reproaching Erdogan’s ambitions to have an enhanced presidency but for the AKP, the retreat proved short-lived: in November 2015 the political party won back its parliamentary majority in snap elections.
The proposal of constitutional amendments to expand the President’s position and remove the Prime Minister ‘s role was followed in April 2017 through a referendum. The vote was followed by a narrow majority and the reforms were due in November 2019 after the next elections.
In June 2018, however, early elections took place. Although the AKP itself won less than half its vote, the AKP won a majority. The AKP has formed an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party ( MHP). Erdogan was re-elected this time with over 52% of the votes at the presidential elections. With the beginning of the new government in July the Constitution was revised.
The lira lost significant value in the months that followed, as Erdogan‘s measures did not avoid the currency crisis. The economy has sunk into recession and oil prices have risen. The AKP suffered a big blow from the local elections that took place on the 31st of March 2019 when results showed that, for the first time since it gained power in 2004, it had lost control of five of the six largest cities in Turkey including Ankara and Istanbul. It not only reflected that unhappiness about the growing costs of living, but also threatened the party’s ability to pursue its national agenda, as municipality in Turkey operated many basic public services.
Justice and Development Party (AKP):
The AKP, which was founded as an Islamist Party and which some would say is just as Islamic as a Christian Democratic party in Germany, entered the Turing political scene on 14 August 2001 under Recep Tayyip ERDOGAN. Which is, they ‘re a new centre-right group from that tradition. Others are sad. There have been fairly weak relations between the major political parties in Turkey and their international counterparts. The globalization process also had a drastic effect on the transformation of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) into one main party.
Some members of AKP, including several MPs, are gallerists. They hold those views, and most of the Galenites have selected the AKP. The AKP, however, has neither an organized gallerist wing nor any of the senior AKP members from the gallerist camp. The goal of the gallerists is to use their schools to train followers for high ranks in leading Turkish institutions; the aims of the AKP are more urgent and focus on electoral politics.
Turkey respects Islam as well as the Turkish military, yet it also does not want democracy to be ruled. In the immediate aftermath of the 1997 “post-modern coup” in which armies pushed off the then PM Erbakan ‘s pro-Islam government, the Turkish Islamists soon and unanimously broke their rhetoric. Following the coup, many of the Turkish Islamist leaders quit all anti-Americanism and started to embrace democracy , human rights and other Western principles. This change was an ideological change by Turkish Islamists, partly due to the political realities in Turkey.
Most AKP opponents domestically and internationally claim that Islamism does not undermine secularism in Turkey. They claim the alleged evolution from Islamists to “modern democrats” between PM Erdogan and other AKP members is nothing more than a political initiative.
Although the AKP has Islamic origins, its values, its political aims, its market driven economic policy and the wider electorate to which it refers are radically different from its predecessors-National Salvation, Democracy, and Virtue Parties. The AKP administration, despite its history and its inability to follow a transparent Islamic agenda, has been accused by criticizers of infiltrating Islamists with the civil bureaucracy.
The dissolution of the Islamist Fazilet (virtue) party in June 2001 by the Constitutional Court was followed by the formation of the two successor parties, the Saadat Party (Content) and the AK (Justice and Development) Party, which were to be an operation core “against the concept of the secular republic.” The Ak Party began to develop its organizational structure immediately and grew rapidly. Within one year, a national network was established. At the same time the Women’s and Youth Branches of the Party were created and activities were initiated throughout Turkey. Turkey’s Justice and Growth Group case failed to prevent it from being elected.
In January of 2002 the Constitutional Court ruled that Erdogan should not be a parliamentary nominee due to his conviction and should not be a party founding member, an AK Party Member and former Istanbul Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan faced immediate legal challenges in his capacity as a founding party member, based on his conviction of ‘inciting religious hatred.’
In the absence of action by the AK Party, prosecutors opened a request for dissolution of the party. However, a conviction would not lead to dissolution under recent legal reforms. He also faced potential legal proceedings for charging anti-secularist claims and suspected financial fraud based on his early 1990s speeches.
The 1998 decision to close Fazilet ‘s predecessor, Refax, was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in July 2001. In the ECHR ‘s assessment, refax had taken the possibility of implementing Shari’s Law in Turkey, as it concluded, the closure “can fairly fulfil the urgent need to maintain a democratic society. Although the leading figures within the AKP were affiliated with the previous Islamist parties and their main electoral support, it became obvious soon that AKP was less than its predecessors.
Following its recent break, the AKP has taken part in the general elections of 3 November 2002. In the election of November 3, voters made AK PARTY the dominant political party: it defeated all other existing parties, taking 34% of the vote. It marks an end to a coalition period that started in 1991. AK PARTY was the governing party. Erdogan joined the Parliament and was appointed Prime Minister after their political ban had ended. Erbakan assumed formal leadership of Saadet.
Just 34 percent of the votes cast were taken by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), but only 2/3 of the 550-seat Parliament won. The number of seats for AK PARTY rose to 367 following interim election in Siirt and new participation in the party. 45% of the Turkish population voted for political parties which did not meet the 10% threshold for new parliamentary representation. The AKP was celebrating a powerful rival’s absence.
A major turning point in Turkish political and economic growth was the unprecedented electoral performance of the AKP at the general elections in November 2002, after a decade of political turmoil with successive coalition governments. As 88% of the newly elected representatives are new to parliament, the political surge is analogous to an earthquake and the AKP and its leadership can be linked to former, but now illegal, Islamist groups.
Such factors have raised questions about the political , cultural , economic and social future of the country inside and outside Turkey. The State ‘s definition of “secularism,” the proper role of religions in society and potential influence of the small minority of Islamists have continued to be heatedly debated.
A major second test for the AK PARTY was that of the local elections of 28 March 2004. The Party raised its 34 percent vote in the elections of 3 November 2002 to 42%. The AK PARTY won a landslide win during the local elections in 12 of the country’s 16 metropolitan municipalities, 46 out of 65 municipalities, 425 out of 789 municipalities of the county and 1,216 out of 2,250 municipal districts.
A major second test for the AK PARTY was that of the local elections of 28 March 2004. The Party raised its 34 percent vote in the elections of 3 November 2002 to 42%. The AK PARTY won a landslide win during the local elections in 12 of the country’s 16 metropolitan municipalities, 46 out of 65 municipalities, 425 out of 789 municipalities of the county and 1,216 out of 2,250 municipal districts. The Turkish nationalists, who are backed by armed powers, firmly opposed Abdullah Gull‘s presidency or the presidency of any other leaders of the Justice and Development Party. But the Justice and Development Party (AK) was largely reflected based on economic successes in Turkey and committed to continued economic liberalisation, and was responsible for implementing a number of reforms that allowed Turkey’s remarkable success.
The Turkish Constitutional Court annulled the vote in favour of the next President of Turkey on 1 May 2007. The Constitutional Court blocked the election of Prime Minister Erdogan as the presidential nominee for Foreign Minister Abdullah Gull because Gull was not secular enough.
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