AK Party years in Turkey’s economy

By: Erdal Tanas Karagöl*


The Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which was established on Aug. 14, 2001, singularly came to power only 15 months later. Since this date, it managed to come out of all general and local elections as the victor party.

While the AK Party repeated its political achievements since it came to power in 2002, it also faced a number of incidents concerning civil politics. The case for the party’s closing down, the e-memorandum in 2007, the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 judicial coup, Gezi Park incidents, Oct. 6-8 incidents, terrorist attacks and the July 15 coup attempt are the first predicaments that come to mind.

Despite all these obstacles, the AK Party showed complete determination to first complete the priorities it identified in economy and implement the grand projects that will change Turkey.

While a tradition of short-term governments coming to power existed, the vote rates of ruling parties generally dropped in the following elections. And because voters who in the 2002 general elections left the parties of the previous government outside Parliament, the AK Party further increased the support it received in every following election.

Of course, just as there are political and social elements behind this political support growing in folds, many economic factors have also been effective.

So, what did the AK Party do in economy in the last 14 years?

The AK Party stopped the economy, economic order and structure from being a structure that serves the interests of a select segment. The AK Party government does not receive orders from different places or centers, it listens to the people’s demands, requests and expectations and determines its policies accordingly.

An economic structure is formed in which those in the low and medium income group came to the center, the income level increased, just distribution of political, economic and social rights is targeted and the requests of this segment is reflected on practice. The most concrete indication that attention is paid to this segment is the social aid.

The social aid helped the AK Party reach numerous segments of society almost making a silent revolution in this field. As a matter of fact, in the last general elections, social aid was one of the fundamental propaganda tools used by all political parties.

If the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey failed, it is because of meeting expectations in economic and social life, the people claiming their national will and the rise of economic and social welfare have a great share in this.

During the AK Party period, despite the 2008 global crisis, with the exception of 2009, Turkey’s economy continuously grew in the 2002-2015 period. While income per capita was $3,492 in 2002, it rose in 2015 to $9,177. A country in which income per capita was low for years is now in the high-medium income group.

In the past, the country’s debt had become unpayable due to high debt and budget deficits. While 19 IMF standby agreements and 15 loan postponements were made, today, Turkey has achieved the indicators targeted by many countries in terms of debt and budget deficits.

Inflation, which is considered one of the unsuccessful indicators of this period, dropped from double digits to single digits. Fourteen years ago the inflation rate was 29.8 percent.

With the 2023 goals it determined for Turkey, the AK Party gained a significant place among world economies and the G20.

Improvement in this period was seen not only in the country rating, interest and other macroeconomic indicators. For the first time in its history, Turkey knew to use the advantage of its geography. With the projects launched in energy and other planned major projects, it made great progress in becoming an energy hub.

In addition to the projects in energy, several projects such as the Marmaray subway tunnel, the new bridge, the undersea tunnel, the high-speed train and defense projects, which were once only a dream for Turkey, became true.

In the past in the pre-AK Party period, a segment or group used to be able to have whatever effect they wanted in Turkey’s politics and, of course, economy with a small touch. However, in the AK Party period, we have an economy that continues to stand strong despite two general elections, countless terrorist attacks and, most recently, the July 15 coup attempt in the last one year.

Much work needs to be accomplished in the new period

The primary indicator of the AK Party’s success is the progress Turkey made in development and welfare.

Therefore, in the new period, the AK Party will continue to stand against the political and economic tutelages both within and without and – as it did in the past – continue to fulfill the people’s demands. It is because of this that we need more than ever to write a new success story in economy.

This is why in addition to the reform process, that started and will be commenced in fields blocking the economy and causing it to be dependent on foreign sources, we have no other choice but to change the submissive understanding of economic institutions and those that dominate these institutions.

*Erdal Tanas Karagöl is a Turkish journalist. He writes columns for Yeni Şafak Turkish newspaper.
             (Published in Yeni Şafak on Monday, August 15, 2016)