Ever since he took over as AKP General Chair, the process of change in the machinery and municipalities that President Tayyip Erdoğan has initiated with talk of “metal fatigue” and his being the “sole determinant” in almost every matter has given rise to internal party debate. The tension and internal debate that had its inception with the forced resignation of mayors has most recently taken on perceptibly broader dimensions within the AKP. It is noted in relation to this that the rise in the dollar, stubbornly high inflation and the instruction for interest rates to be reduced have imposed tight constraints on management of the economy. There is talk in the party, where seemingly the approach to foreign policy is characterised in such terms as, “There remains nobody with whom we are not quarrelling,” of this tension inevitably creating problems in domestic politics and the economy. The rise in the dollar is psychological, but the expectation of low interest rates engendered in economic circles by statements made before the cameras by the Central Bank prior to each interest-rate meeting is said to be the reason for this psychology. It is stated that the Central Bank’s decisions must not be guided by pronouncements, and warnings are constantly made that the conditions are not in place for an interest-rate reduction.
Apparently, the negative results obtained in economic and foreign policy are being analysed purely with a view to Erdoğan’s success in 2019 and blame is being pinned with this in mind. It is said that criticism over the failure for the endless high-profile arrest, detention and prosecution processes to be conducted on the basis of convincing evidence and over injustice being perpetrated is heightening the negative and tense domestic atmosphere. There is word of internal-party strain caused by people whose relatives are being prosecuted on FETO charges maintaining their privileged positions. Seemingly, while bold criticism that tension and polarisation was no longer benefiting the party and a move was needed towards softening policies domestically and externally, otherwise the cart would overturn, found favour when first heard, no abandonment of the tension-stoking approach was subsequently observed. It is pointed out that cabinet meetings are devoid of consultation and do not move beyond displays of “respect and nodding,” when in fact many ministers have spoken of things not going well in the party and being unable to work for the President’s interference, and all ministers refrain from expressing an opinion on any matter until the President has spoken. Descriptions given of the atmosphere at cabinet meetings indicate that, “The President makes his view known and ministers speak along the same lines.” All such descriptions are accompanied with the comment that the Prime-Minister remains silent in the face of all these events, or simply gives his approval. The most frequently voiced criticism, on the other hand, surrounds the issue of those who footed the “political bill” for the referendum results. It is stated that, in the face of the negative results of 16 April, the problem has not been solved by getting mayors to resign and responsibility must be borne by everyone who went from province to province and square to square campaigning for the “yes” vote, but the approach adopted and comments made have rankled the organisation.
Race to respect Erdoğan
The word is that, after mayors alone had been made to foot the bill, the entire senior administration including ministers have embarked on a race to respect Erdoğan and those who have lost their posts are heedful of their civil servant relatives’ posts. It is stressed that the fight against FETO that was waged until 16 April was replaced after 16 April with a hunt for Erdoğan’s detractors and this will gradually take the party into a worse place.
Concerns over the intelligence agency
One of the difficulties spoken of in Ankara is the status of the intelligence agency. The problems that were experienced when it was attached to the Prime-Ministry are reported to be continuing now that it has been attached to the Presidency under a state of emergency decree with the force of law. Influential figures within the party speak of their reticence over what an intelligence agency attached to the Presidency might get up to. There is also talk of discomfort engendered by the great amount of time devoted by the intelligence agency to the CHP.
The AKP is battle weary