The AKP’s provincial chairs, Central Executive Committee and Central Decision and Executive Committee convened under the chairship of Prime-Minister Binali Yıldırım and, while assessing the referendum results, self-criticism came from a great many members.
The referendum results were picked over the day before yesterday at the meetings lasting until late at night of the AKP’s provincial chairs, Central Executive Committee and Central Decision and Executive Committee. At the meetings, with a large group of members stating that the party had emerged from the referendum with success, certain members criticised the rhetoric, strategy and policies used during the referendum. Members who spoke of emerging from the referendum with success concluded, ‘At the time when the amendment was first mooted, ‘yes’ scored around 35% in public opinion polls. This rose to 51.4% in the short space of six months. It is hard to get society to approve reforms of this type at times when the economy and domestic and foreign politics are in turmoil. This result was a significant success in both political and sociological terms.’
Certain members, stating that, especially in the Mediterranean and Aegean Regions, although the ‘yes’ vote was not low, the ‘no’ vote to the constitutional amendment had to be assessed well in sociological terms, said, ‘What underlies both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes? Was opposition to or support for sole rule by Erdoğan a basic parameter? The prevailing of ‘no’ in the coastal regions and big cities that are more urban and more open to outside influence must be well analysed. An inclusive policy must be followed to win over citizens who are worried and anxious and assuage their concerns. Change and reform is required in the parameters followed until now. Otherwise, we cannot succeed in the elections to be held in 2019.’
Debate over federated provinces
While certain members criticised the rhetoric and language used, some of them pointed out that the debate over federated provinces ushered in by comments from Erdoğan’s adviser, Şükrü Karatepe, negatively affected the result and pushed MHP voters in the direction of ‘no’. The conclusion was reached that in the Mediterranean and Aegean Regions concerns over the change to the system leading to a single man and dictatorship could not be surmounted, the party had been unable to develop an effective discourse to counter CHP General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s propaganda to this effect and it had not been possible to get the amendment across.
Congress calendar takes shape
Prime-Minister Yıldırım instructed organisations to start working towards an ordinary congress. The AKP wants to complete municipality, sub-province and province congresses in September or at the latest by the end of the year and be ready for an ordinary congress. It is stated that, once Erdoğan has become a party member, when he decides to become general chair the ordinary congress calendar will be aligned with this and the congress, slated for September 2018 could be brought forward to autumn this year or spring 2018.