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Turkey’s 2014 Political Transition – From Erdogan to Erdogan? 14 janvier 2014

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Policy Notes,  No. 17, January 2014                                                        Türkçe
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Soner Cagaptay & James F. Jeffrey *

In 2014, Turkey will hold two key nationwide elections: one on March 30 for local government and city officials and a second one for president, to conclude by August 28 (see Appendix 1 for details) . The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has held power since 2002, has lasted longer than any government since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1950. For the AKP, the two 2014 elections offer an opportunity to strengthen its hand in the run-up to the parliamentary elections of 2015. Yet the elections of 2014 also pose multiple challenges for Turkey’s governing party and its leadership, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey longer than any of the country’s other democratically elected prime ministers.

The local elections, while not affecting the national government directly, can be considered a quasi- referendum on the governing party’s leadership. These local elections also include a big prize in the may – oralty of Istanbul, a global city that accounts for 30 percent of Turkey’s $1.3 trillion economy. In addition, leadership of Istanbul has been a bellwether for national leadership. Indeed, the AKP’s rise to national prominence began in 1994 when Erdogan was elected mayor of Istanbul, which had previously been run by the AKP’s predecessor, the Welfare Party (RP), defunct since 1999. A victory in the March polls in Istanbul could thus foretell continued national dominance for the AKP

* Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family Fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute, and James F. Jeffrey is the Philip Solondz Distinguished Visiting Fellow. The authors would like to thank program staff Tyler Evans, Bilge Menekse, and Merve Tahiroglu for their assistance with this paper.

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