Türkiye will hold critical presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) election manifesto almost one month before the elections on April 11. In addition, President Erdoğan has introduced his party’s campaign and candidate list for parliamentary elections. The title of the 31-point manifesto is “Right Steps for Century of Türkiye” and was adopted as the election campaign’s motto.
Erdoğan previously declared the grand vision of the “Century of Türkiye” at the end of last October. The election manifesto is largely a detailed version of the previous document since it explains how to set the stage for the plan. In other words, the election manifesto paves the way to reach Türkiye’s centennial targets. Erdoğan, who has been ruling the country since 2003, is determined to raise the status and profile of Türkiye in the world.
In this article, I will briefly analyze the election manifesto. The following paragraphs are written largely based on the election manifesto published by the AK Party and the speech given by Erdoğan on April 11.
Erdoğan has underlined that the last two decades of his rule were a preparation period for the “Century of Türkiye.” All internal factors, such as enormous infrastructure projects, high technology, defense industry, energy investments and development of an effective health sector mentioned in the manifesto, will serve the ultimate target of making Türkiye a global power. He emphasized that it is important to have experienced cadres, namely the AK Party under his leadership, in this critical transition period where global balance is being reshaped.
Axis of Türkiye
The two concepts that were chosen for the title of the foreign policy section in the manifesto are “Axis of Türkiye” and “effective foreign policy.” The whole section provides reasoning for this grand strategy. The first pre-condition for establishing this foreign policy axis is that Türkiye has a deterrent power. Therefore, President Erdoğan has stated that Türkiye has no choice but to become strong and remain vital to develop as an island of peace and security. For this, he pointed out that his government would build the axis of Türkiye with a foreign policy where both Türkiye, its region, and all humanity would find peace and stability. Some of the principles and concepts mentioned in the document are multilateralism, humanitarian diplomacy, cooperation, peace and stability.
Erdoğan stated that Türkiye will pursue an integrated foreign policy orientation in the future. An alien and security policy that centers on independence, providing the highest level of security, strengthening its military power, enhancing its economic well-being, and consolidating its democracy will be followed. According to the manifesto, Türkiye will build three main strategic belts. First, it will make its region a peace, stability and welfare belt. Second, it will institutionalize continental openings. Ankara will continue to pursue the goals of the “Asia Anew Initiative” project initiated in 2019, to strengthen cooperation with the Muslim world “without getting permission from anyone” and to consolidate its model partnership with the African continent. Third, it will pioneer the establishment of a more just world order.
Defense: Key for strong Türkiye
The manifesto states that a strong defense means a strong Türkiye. Therefore, Türkiye will continue investing more in building hard power to challenge and deter any threat to Turkish national security. Accordingly, Türkiye will continue to pursue a preventive security strategy in its struggle against terrorism and other security threats.
Erdoğan and his team are determined to increase the power of Türkiye not only in the military and economic sectors but also in education, transportation, energy and agriculture. Also, Türkiye will consolidate its leading position in humanitarian diplomacy and ineffective migration management. In addition, Türkiye has empowered its diplomatic infrastructure and increased the number of diplomatic missions abroad. As a result, Türkiye has the fifth most significant number of foreign diplomatic representations globally.
All in all, the coming elections are pretty critical since the two prominent political coalitions put Türkiye at a crossroads. For the AK Party and its leader President Erdoğan, if they win the elections, they will start the dawn of the “Century of Türkiye.” Otherwise, Türkiye will continue to face significant challenges. The AK Party and its leader aim to continue the country’s transformation program, protect it against internal and external threats, increase its deterrent military power, consolidate Türkiye’s regional leadership and globalize its diplomatic influence.