Let’s watch Turkey’s ruling party elite hedge their bets over Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s longevity, as protests continue into their second week.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in a tight spot, with a 50-50 chance that Erdogan will recoup from his mismanagement of protests that have spiraled into country-wide mass anti-government demonstrations.
What the AKP elite now have to decide is whether Erdogan can do enough damage control to save himself, or whether continued support of him will damage the AKP irrevocably.
The problem for Erdogan—and perhaps the saving grace for the AKP—is that the protests are specifically targeting the prime minister and his increasingly authoritarian rule rather than seeking to unseat the AKP at all costs.
Related article: TURKEY: Erdogan Fails to Regain Control
Gareth Jenkins, a veteran political analyst in Turkey, says the situation is too dynamic right now to make accurate predictions, but that regardless, things will never be the same.
While there is much talk about opposition and margin groups hijacking the protests, Jenkins says no one’s had a chance to truly hijack these protests because there is no leadership to hijack and they have taken on a very dynamic life of their own.
On Saturday, protests in the capital, Ankara, picked up momentum with protesters clashing with police after the government rejected calls for early elections and Erdogan continued to dismiss the protests as an opposition attempt to unseat the AKP.
Erdogan and his closest AKP elite have also blamed the protests on “terrorists” and on the “interest rate lobby”, which they claim is a banking conspiracy to destabilize the economy.
Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters descending on government buildings. Since the protests began on 31 May, three people have been killed, including two protesters and one policeman.
According to Jenkins, Erdogan’s claims that the opposition manufactured the protests have no foundation. ISA Intel analysts concur, noting that the opposition CHP is far too weak and inept to organize a country-wide demonstration.
Related article: Wake-Up Call for Turkey’s AKP
According ISA Intel analysts, while we shouldn’t’ be ready just yet for Erdogan’s fall, and while there is still a chance he could turn this into another opportunity, if he continues to mismanage the crisis, we could see him lose support from his own party as it hedges its bets for survival. But we’re not at that point just yet.
The protest began with a sit-in in Gezi Park, which was rumored to be razed to build an Ottoman-style barracks housing a massive shopping mall. Protesters—representing both secular and religious citizens—sought an audience with city authorities to repeal the destruction of the last patch of green in Istanbul.
The government has agreed not to go ahead with plans for building the shopping center, but is standing firm on the barracks construction.
By. Jen Alic of Oilprice.com