Erdoğan Warns AK Party Against Complacency After Local Election Losses

Erdogan orders sweeping changes in ruling party after local election losses, vows to fix flaws and regain control in future elections.

Safak Costu
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Erdoğan Warns AK Party Against Complacency After Local Election Losses

Erdoğan Warns AK Party Against Complacency After Local Election Losses

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has instructed his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to make sweeping changes after suffering significant losses in Turkey's March 31 local elections. The AK Party won 74 mayoral seats, including 28 metropolitan cities, but ceded control of 14 of the 22 cities it won in the 2019 elections to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

In a speech to parliament on April 17, Erdoğan addressed the election results, arguing that his coalition had emerged victorious despite the setbacks. "It's not over until we say it's over," he declared. The president identified low voter turnout as a key factor, with only 78% of eligible voters participating compared to 87% in the previous presidential and parliamentary elections.

Erdoğan also scolded the victorious opposition, saying "They have become spoiled and forgotten that this is just a local election." He emphasized his authority, stating "There is a single ruling government and that is the president and his cabinet."

The AK Party is now looking to conduct comprehensive field surveys to identify the causes of voter abstention, such as economic conditions, fatigue from back-to-back elections, and dissatisfaction with mayoral candidates. The findings will be used to draft a new roadmap for the next elections.

Erdoğan has assured that the party will stick to its current economy program while implementing necessary measures and introducing tightened cautions, particularly against exorbitant price hikes. The annual AK Party congress, slated for later this year, is seen as an opportunity for internal rejuvenation and an intraparty reshuffle.

Why this matters: The local election results mark a significant shift in Turkish politics, with the opposition making inroads in key cities after nearly two decades of AK Party dominance. Erdoğan's response and the AK Party's ability to adapt will shape the political landscape leading up to the next national elections.

Despite the losses, Erdoğan struck a defiant tone, saying "Nothing is over, it will never be over until we say it's over. We are the largest party in Turkey. We will fix our flaws and deficiencies and get back to work." The president pointed to the AK Party's success in the southeastern province of Hatay, where it took control from the CHP, as evidence that the party still maintains strong support in certain regions.

Key Takeaways

  • Erdogan orders sweeping changes in ruling AK Party after local election losses
  • AK Party lost control of 14 of 22 cities it won in 2019 to CHP opposition
  • Erdogan cites low voter turnout as key factor, vows to address party's flaws
  • AK Party to conduct surveys to identify causes of voter abstention
  • Erdogan assures party will stick to current economy program with tightened measures