Mar 31 2019

Turkey needs a new conservative party for regime change - analyst

A new conservative party is needed for regime transition in Turkey and to put the country back on a democratic path, analyst Semuhi Sinanoğlu wrote in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday as Turks began voting in local elections.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gained sweeping new powers last year and his authoritarian regime takes every chance to consolidate power by violating democracy, therefore a new conservative movement may attract voters and reclaim the centre-right, said Sinanoğlu, a resident fellow at the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation in Montreal.

"We need a new conservative party in Turkey, spearheaded by a pragmatic-centrist conservative leadership, to reclaim the center-right again. That is the only way out for steering the country back onto a democratic track," Sinanoğlu said.

Erdoğan's rule is not as bullet-proof as it seems, and some of his cadres and supporters are disappointed but remain silent due to fear of retaliation by the incumbent regime, the analyst said. And rumours of a new party to be established by some of Erdoğan's former allies are raising hope for an alternative, he said.

A democratic-socialist party cannot be an alternative to the current one because a "redistributive agenda" may intimidate Turks and incentivise them to stick with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Sinanoğlu said.

"A leftist-populist agenda might find it extremely challenging to take roots, as economic voting does not work anymore in Turkey at the same level it once did," he said.

"The ruling elite coalition must be convinced that they would be better off after a democratic transition, and they can be only convinced by a group of people from similar conservative backgrounds," Sinanoğlu said.

The Jeanne Sauvé Foundation aims to connect with and empower the next generation of public leaders in Canada and the rest of the globe, according to its website.