Key Players in Turkey’s Justice and Development Party

Nov 09, 2012

            On September 30, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) held its annual convention. Delegates reelected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to his final term as party leader. The Washington Institute's new report draws on the convention results and examines changes in the moderate Islamist party's leadership. The following are excerpts from the introduction and profiles of up-and-coming AKP leaders, with a link to the full report at the end.

            Anticipating nationwide local elections in 2013 and the 2014 presidential election, the AKP elected a new leadership at the convention to guide the party in the coming years of transition. In the 2013 elections, many AKP mayors who have held office for three terms or more will step down. In the next year’s vote, Erdogan is widely expected to run for the presidency, both because of his ineligibility for the prime ministership and because the post is the coveted symbolic seat of the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk…

            Erdogan’s core associates, including Huseyin Celik, Ekrem Erdem, and Omer Celik, have retained their positions in the influential Central Decision Authority Committee (MYK). But a number of new names and transfers from other parties have given the MYK a fresh look. The most conspicuous additions are Numan Kurtulmus and Suleyman Soylu, who come from two distinct branches of the political right: the Islamist movement is represented by the demure, well-liked Kurtulmus, former head of the smaller People’s Voice Party; the center-right is represented by Suleyman Soylu, who hails from the Democrat Party, once a mother ship of the country’s center right parties.

            Erdogan’s inclusion of these new names atop the AKP’s leadership structure suggests a push to capture the full spectrum of the conservative and right-wing votes in Turkey. This ranges from the Islamist base once held by the National Salvation, Welfare, and Virtue Parties to the center-right vote that has historically held sway under the Democrat, Justice, True Path, and Motherland Parties.





Click here for the full report.


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The Islamists Are Coming is the first book to survey the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring.  Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties.  They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.

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