1 Center for American Progress | Turkey in Turmoil
Turkey in Turmoil
The upcoming Turkish elections will shape the future of a key NATO ally.
By Michael Werz and Max Hoffman March 27, 2014
A litle more han a decade ago, he urkish Jusice and Developmen Pary, or AKP, and is main proagonis, Recep ayyip Erdoğan, celebraed a hisoric elecoral vicory. Founded in 2001, he AKP mobilized a broad allianceconsising o religious and social conservaives, members o he newly emergen Anaolian middle class, and liberal urks rusraed wih he coaliion governmen o he democraic lef and esablishmen naion-alisso become he counry’s ﬁrs and only popular, broad-based naional pary.
Recep ayyip Erdoğan’s biography exempliﬁed he ransormaion wihin urkish soci-ey ha underpinned his poliical shif. Erdoğan immigraed o as-growing Isanbul a he age o 13 rom a rural province on urkey’s Black Sea coas.
He laer buil a poliical career by connecing wih underprivileged, rural, and religious urks, who had been largely ignored by he radiional urkish poliical elie. Afer is waershed vicory in he 2002 elecions, he AKPwih Prime Miniser Erdoğan a he helmoversaw a decade o srong economic growh, began imporan reorms o move urkey oward EU membership, and sofened he urkish sae’s radi-ionally harsh sance oward religious and ehnic minoriy groups.
Alongside is broad popular suppor, he AKP buil a poen poliical machine based on awarding paron-age and governmen conracs o business leaders in exchange or ﬁnancial suppor and posiive coverage rom media arms aﬃliaed wih hose business leaders.
Building upon heir economic record and he suppor o religious and socially conservaive urks and powerul Anaolian business ineress, he AKP secured addiional decisive elecoral vicories in 2007 and 2011.
A crucial test
urkey will head o he polls on March 30 or key local elecions or he ﬁrs ime since 2009. While voers will choose members o provincial and municipal councils, as well as mayors, across he counry, conrol o Isanbulhome o nearly 20 percen o he urkish populaion
and he launch pad or Prime Miniser Erdoğan’s own poliical