AK Party’s victory in local elections Sunday was buttressed by economic stability and the party’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, experts say.
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Justice and Development (AK) Party’s victory in local elections Sunday was buttressed by economic stability and the party’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, experts said Monday.
“Growth will continue to attract investment, investment will continue to attract growth,” said Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s (WINEP) Turkish Research Program at a WINEP-sponsored discussion on Turkey’s elections Monday. “That in return means that Erdogan will continue to be rewarded at the ballot box with more votes.”
The AK Party is bolstered by the Turkish Premier himself who fashions himself as an underdog vying against opponents that seek to undermine his policies, according to Cagaptay.
Sunday’s victory is likely to further increase the likelihood that Erdogan will run for the country’s presidency. That bid is likely to be upheld at the ballot box, remarked James Jeffrey, a visiting fellow at WINEP. “The most likely course of action is Erdogan moving to the presidency in elections this summer.”
Social tensions that were exacerbated by fiery rhetoric during local elections must be addressed, argued Michael Werz, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in a seperate statement.
“The best-case scenario would be a softening of rhetoric from the Prime Minister and the AKP, which could contribute to a process to heal the divisions in Turkish society,” said Werz.
Moreover, the country’s continued economic success may be jeopardized by recent restrictions on freedom of expression.
“Turkey is seen as a country that is open for business,” remarked Cagaptay. “I think the idea that social media bans have become common place and are probably likely to happen again, people are suggesting curbs on press freedoms, freedom of assembly and media, all will make Turkey a place that is not open for business at one point in the future.”
If Turkey wishes to develop its economy further it must work to ensure fundamental freedoms, Cagaptay argued. “Turkey is now building cars. It is a middle-income economy. It is doing really well, but it cannot make the jump to become an advanced economy if it does not remain an open society.”
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