Opinion: Erdogan prepares for 2019 | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 22.05.2017
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Turkey

Opinion: Erdogan prepares for 2019

Turkey's opposition parties are not strong enough to compete with the AKP now that it has reunited with its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, writes DW's Seda Serdar. What is at stake for Turkey's future?

Due to constitutional amendments that were accepted with the April referendum, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will now be able to lead the country and the party simultaneously. In other words, the AKP will be more powerful with the president on its side.

At the extraordinary party congress in Ankara over the weekend, where Erdogan resumed his leadership, the president said he embraced all citizens, wanting to put an end to the deep polarization within the country.   

However, this seems unlikely, since the opposition is still rejecting the result of the referendum which gives immense powers to the president. It is trying to prove manipulation at the ballots. Next stop for the opposition: the European Court of Human Rights, an attempt which most likely will end with another disappointment. In the meantime, the AKP has already started preparing for the 2019 election.

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DW's Seda Serdar

Fresh blood for the AKP

The AKP will be mobilizing young people and women within the party. In the 2019 general election, an 18-year-old will have the chance to become a member of parliament - for the very first time.

Thus, mobilizing these groups of voters will not only be crucial for the AKP but also for all the other political parties.  

Currently, none of the opposition parties are strong enough to compete with an AKP that has finally reunited with its leader. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leadership is trying to boost its presence by having simultaneous meetings in 40 cities. However, it is also still struggling with opposition within the party, which might lead to a new political formation. The Republican People's Party (CHP) is weak and has to go beyond its loyal supporters, which are not sufficient to obtain a majority.    

The pro-Kurdish HDP has just elected a new co-chair, Serpil Kemalbay, replacing Figen Yuksekdag, whose immunity has been lifted. With Selahattin Demirtas in prison, the party is trying to recover from having almost disappeared from the political scene in Turkey. So there is a lot of work awaiting the opposition parties, which is crucial for their survival. 

Internal and external challenges       

Turkey has to face various internal challenges. For Erdogan, the most important one is overcoming terrorism. This is crucial not just for the AKP voters, but for all citizens. However, is it really necessary to continue this struggle under the state of emergency? 

On Sunday, Erdogan said the state of emergency would only be lifted once the problem of terrorism was resolved. Considering Turkey's struggle with the PKK that has been going on for decades, the current fight against the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) and the recent crackdown on the Gulen movement - which the Turkish government considers a terrorist organization - it seems the country will remain under a state of emergency for an indefinite period of time. This not only harms the economy. It is also being used to violate human rights, which pushes Turkey further away from its Western allies. 

At this week's NATO summit, Erdogan will be meeting with EU leaders in Brussels. Now that he has resumed more power following the referendum, the Turkish president will focus on mending ties with European allies. Even though it won't be easy, due to Erdogan's pro-death penalty stance, human rights violations and tensions due to the Incirlik airbase, the country isn't ready to break off ties with the EU just yet.      

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