This development is very important in terms of the balances within the AK Party because both the AK Party leader and Kurtulmuş were raised in the same political school. There is an overwhelming probability that Erdoğan will be president and will appoint a temporary party leader. The idea that Erdoğan could be president has occupied the country’s agenda for a long time, and it is believed that Kurtulmuş will be appointed as Erdoğan’s successor. Senior AK Party executives are uneasy. The possibility that someone from outside the party could be appointed the party leader is disrupting all balances within the party. And this disrupting is based solely on one person’s considerations: Erdoğan.
Erdoğan is a politician who has very strong political instincts and intuition. He also has a strong, strategic perspective. He makes careful calculations while designing the game and implements his plans patiently and carefully. His political career shows that he has not made a major political error in choosing his political staff. This is why the addition of Kurtulmuş to the AK Party is meaningful only within Erdoğan’s game plan. If this is the case, then you need to ask: What is Erdoğan’s game plan?
Erdoğan is redesigning his party -- in other words, his backyard -- through and through. In September, the AK Party’s congress will be held. The political staff assembled at this congress will carry out the campaigns for the presidential and municipal elections in 2014. Note, though, the party bylaws state that a person can run for Parliament for three consecutive terms at most. This is an important factor. Erdoğan has used this provision in the bylaws as a means by which to discipline AK Party deputies. With Kurtulmuş in the party, Erdoğan will be able to manage and lead the party smoothly because Kurtulmuş will be a powerful man in the face of the core of the AK Party.
As a party of the masses, the AK Party has formed expansive partnerships over the last 10 years. As a result of its struggle against military tutelage over the system, the AK Party has reinforced its place and become indisputably unrivaled. Now, there is not a serious contender against the AK Party. In these conditions, Erdoğan will redesign his party -- his home -- that he has left neglected for a long time. Moreover, he no longer needs any political support from those who fall outside of his own political choices. In these suitable circumstances, Erdoğan is returning to his preferences, which are an integral part of his identity and personality. And he is realizing himself as a whole. He is putting conservatives at the helm of his party and of the country. The policy of raising religious generations with education reform, the project to build a mosque in Çamlıca and the abortion debate are signs of this country-wide transformation, and the addition of Kurtulmuş would be a symbol of this at the party level.
Will Erdoğan’s policy of turning the AK Party into a conservative party with more restricted limits, i.e., returning it to its roots, cause a decline in its electoral support? Erdoğan is a wolfish politician. These policies may result in a decline in his party’s electoral support, but Erdoğan has the tools to prevent this. The best tool available to him is the economy. The country’s economy is on right track, and the decline in the current account deficit (CAD) is a good sign. Society seeks stability and orderliness. In this regard, there is no alternative to the AK Party. And this lack of an alternative is leaving much room to maneuver for conservative policies that would normally be received with negative reactions.
The AK Party is getting more conservative. The transfer of Kurtulmuş is one of the major and permanent signs of this conservative initiative. However, this process of getting more conservative can be best seen as a part of Erdoğan’s intentions to have more disciplined and more easily managed party within the context of his short-term political plans. Indeed, this conservative transformation fits Erdoğan’s political aspirations like a glove.
In short, the AK Party is turning into a more disciplined party with an increasingly complex hierarchy.