Justice and Development Party (Turkey)

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Template:Politics of Turkey Template:Infobox Political PartyThe Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or AKP; often referred to in Turkey as the "Ak Party," Ak being Turkish for white, clean, or unblemished) is a Turkish political party. The AKP is a right-wing, moderately Islamist party with a free market political agenda.

Contents

Brief Background

The AKP portrays itself as a moderate, right-wing conservative party with plans to combine elements of Islam with Turkey's everday democratic and secular lifestyle. It has the aim of becoming Turkey's answer to Germany's CDU. Opponents, however, worry that it could be a front for Islamists, or at least anti-secularists – Turkey is officially secular. It won a landslide victory in the 2002 general elections, despite capturing barely a third of the popular vote, and its leader, former Istanbul mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is currently the Prime Minister of Turkey.

History

The Justice and Development Party emerged from the embers of the staunchly Islamist Welfare Party, which briefly led a coalition government in Turkey in 1996. In 2000 the Welfare Party was broken up by the military for allegedly threatening the secular nature of the Turkish Republic. A faction of conservative moderate Islamists within the old Welfare Party, known as Yenilikçiler, or in English, Renewalists formed the Justice and Development Party on August 14, 2001, in an attempt to ground moderate Islamic politics in a secular democratic framework.

The more conservative and staunch Islamic factions of the Welfare Party formed the Felicity Party, which gained only 2% of the vote in 2002's General Election, and is seen as Turkey's main party that stands for Islamic fundamentalism in the Turkish Republic.

After some initial stumbling, notably when Erdogan was temporarily blocked from taking up the Prime Ministership, the AKP has found its feet. It survived the crisis over the 2003 invasion of Iraq despite a massive back bench rebellion by the opposition Republican People's Party in parliament, which prevented the government from allowing the United States to launch a Northern offensive in Iraq from Turkish soil. It also prevented sending Turkish troops to Iraq—a move the AKP supported. The government has greatly increased Turkish chances of being given a date for membership of the European Union, notably by giving strong support to the ultimately doomed Annan Plan aimed at resolving the Cyprus conflict. It has been buoyed by rapid economic growth and an end to Turkey's three decade long period of hyperinflation—inflation had fallen to 8.8% by June 2004.

In the local elections of 2004, the AKP won an unprecedented 44% of the vote, making inroads agains the secular nationalist Republican People's Party (CHP) on the South and West Coasts, and against Kurdish nationalists in the Southeast of Turkey.

One potential crisis looming on the horizon is that the EU must make a decision on whether or not to give Turkey a target date for accession by October 2005. Turkey has quite a good chance to join the EU—in early 2005, the AKP was admitted as an observer-member of the European People's Party, the conservative party of the EU, which means it is likely to become a full member of the group if Turkey is admitted to the EU. If the EU raises its hand against Turkey, however, many fear that the AKP could again split between its reformist and conservative factions, heralding another period of instability in Turkish politics.

Other Information

The AKP draws particular support from the rural peasantry, and the children of rural peasants who have migrated to the major cities in millions. Despite placing itself on the right-wing of the political spectrum, it has implemented strong social programmes for the urban and rural poor, particularly at municipal level. In this it perhaps seeks to emulate, in Islamic form, the Christian Social tradition of Northwestern Europe.

The party's logo is a lightbulb, symbolizing its plan for a modern yet religious Turkish Republic.

On domestic policy, the party is right-wing, conservative, and moderate Islamist.

See also

External link

The link above hosts the official website of the Justice and Development Party of Turkey. The web-site is only in Turkish and has no English sections, but is quite easy to navigate. An e-mail address is available to the webmaster by clicking the link noted Teknik Desk on the top right hand corner of the main page.de:Partei für Gerechtigkeit und Entwicklung (Türkei) fr:Parti pour la justice et le développement nl:AK-partij

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