The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Tuesday unveiled its election manifesto titled “The Right Steps for the Century of Türkiye.” The 481-page text, which the party painstakingly thought out, comprises six chapters and attaches importance to future projects, ways to improve living standards, and pursuing ambitious goals in foreign policy and national security.
The introductory chapter stresses the AK Party serves a cause, represents a party of the future, pioneers inclusive politics, and shares the ideal of a democratic, reformist and fully independent Türkiye. The movement puts strong social structures, values and the family at the center to make concrete pledges like complementary family income, retirement support for housewives, encouraging young people to start families, launching the Family and Youth Bank, and abolishing face-to-face interviews in public service entrance exams.
The chapter on a stable and robust economy identifies key projects and goals for strategic sectors and pledges to increase per capita income to $16,000.
Regarding democracy and human rights and liberties, the AK Party reiterates its commitment to enacting “supplementary” reforms on top of the “transformative and protective” reforms it implemented over the years.
‘Axis of Türkiye’ in 3 areas
Meanwhile, the chapter on “holistic foreign policy” identifies the goal of creating the “Axis of Türkiye” in three strategically important areas: Promoting peace and stability in the country’s neighborhood, taking new steps to institutionalize continent-wide initiatives, and spearheading efforts to create a more just global order.
Finally, the chapter titled “A Peaceful Future Through Confidence and Stability” sets the goal of eliminating terrorism altogether, safe cities and building on the experience accumulated over the last five years for the restoration of the presidential system.
Election manifestos contain the pledges, policies and goals of political parties. However, the AK Party has been in power for 21 years and its manifesto aims to take stock of what it has achieved and set goals for the next five years.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a strong start by combining major projects like the delivery of Black Sea natural gas to the mainland and the launch of Türkiye’s first domestic car brand Togg, multipurpose amphibious assault ship and flagship-to-be TCG Anadolu and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) with his campaign pledges.
Just one month ahead of the Turkish elections, the public debate continues to focus on ideology and identity as opposed to campaign pledges. Accordingly, the contrast between Erdoğan and the opposition candidate, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and renewed left-right polarization between the two major alliances increasingly make their mark on the election campaign. That is exactly why the fielding of some parliamentary candidates fueled so much controversy.
The main reason behind the current situation is the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), contesting the election as part of the Green Left Party (YSP) and feeling increasingly cocky, calling for the release of Abdullah Öcalan and other PKK members and making references to Kurdistan. At the same time, PKK’s ringleaders in Iraq and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members have openly endorsed Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance. Senior HDP politicians have also been promising to “overhaul the century-old republic” as pro-HDP figures within the main opposition party began to claim that a new peace process was “inevitable.”
All those developments fuel the fear of territorial disintegration among nationalist and right-leaning voters.
Fears of left coming to power
Combined with the HDP’s leftist discourse and the Turkish Workers’ Party (TIP) elevating its profile, many voters have come to believe that Kılıçdaroğlu’s victory would mean the left coming to power. Some right-wing parties may have been included in the CHP’s candidate lists more strongly than expected, but that does not address concerns over leftists gaining power and might determine the country’s future.
Needless to say, the opposition played some role in that process by vocally accusing the People’s Alliance of being “radical religionists” and “enemies of women and the Left” following the admission of the New Welfare Party (YRP) and The Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR). They continue to criticize that alliance’s emphasis on the family and opposition to the LGBT agenda.
The “radical right-winger/religionist” stereotype may be intended to downplay Kılıçdaroğlu’s endorsement by the pro-PKK HDP and FETÖ, but it elicits another response. Under its former chairperson, Deniz Baykal, the main opposition party used to target what it described as “radical religionists officially.” Today, pro-CHP media personalities and HDP and TIP politicians use that same rhetoric. Such developments led to the reproduction of left-right polarization which, many observers assumed, had become obsolete in Turkish politics.
In this article
- 14 May 2023 Turkish General Election
- 2023 Turkish General Elections Presidential Candidates
- 2023 Turkish Presidential Election
- Akkuyu NPP
- Axis of Türkiye
- Century of Türkiye
- Daily Sabah
- Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)
- HDP-PKK Relations
- HDP-Terror Relations
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
- Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
- Nation Alliance
- Nuclear Power Plant (NPP)
- Presidential Government System
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- TCG Anadolu LHD Ship
- Turkish Economy Under AK Party Rule
- Turkish Workers' Party (TIP)
- Türkiye's 2023 Elections
- Türkiye's Automobile Joint Venture Group Inc. (TOGG)
- Türkiye's Century
- Türkiye's Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR)
- Türkiye's Green Left Party (YSP)
- Türkiye's Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP)
- Türkiye's Republican People's Party (CHP)
- Türkiye's Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairperson