The AKP's Thirst for Power Risks Leaving Turkey High and Dry

Jun 11, 2019 | 09:30 GMT

Opposition supporters in Turkey await the arrival of their candidate for mayor of Istanbul on May 30, 2019.

Ekrem Imamoglu, the Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate for mayor of Istanbul, won a narrow victory during the first March 31 election, defeating the candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). But Turkey’s election body annulled the result after claims of "irregularities." A revote has since been scheduled for June 23.

(Chris McGrath/Getty Images)


  • Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will embrace more populist foreign and domestic policies following the controversial rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election on June 23, regardless of whether or not it wins. 
  • In a bid to consolidate power and drum up support, this renewed patriotic push will include asserting national interests above those of Turkey's foreign allies', which will stir diplomatic conflict with the United States and Europe. 
  • However, the AKP's nationalist policies will ultimately fail to reverse its apparently waning popularity and will make improving Turkey's economic picture more difficult.

On March 31, it looked as if the opposition had successfully wrenched Istanbul's mayorship from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party. But shortly after the results were announced, the AKP was quick to allege election fraud, which it will likely do again should it face another loss in the June 23 re-vote it successfully earned -- laying bare just how far the ruling party will go to secure its control over the city. There is no doubt that the AKP is looking at the upcoming rematch with the 2023 presidential race in mind, and the threat that the oppositions growing popularity presents to their continued political dominance. Facing this existential predicament, the AKP will hunker down on the nationalist rhetoric and populist policies that have historically served it well. And while this approach may temporarily stave off the party's exit in the coming months, it carries with it the risk of...

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