Clouds gather for ruling AKP gov’t ahead of polls

2008-11-29 01:21:03

Clouds gather for ruling AKP gov’t ahead of polls  ANKARA - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party won wide praise from Turkey's liberal circles and financial markets for implementing bold EU-friendly reforms during their first term in office. But now rapidly losing the support of liberals and business leaders, both Erdoğan and his party are currently facing heavy critisism The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is rapidly losing the support of liberals and business leaders who once saw it as an engine of reform, confronting it with serious challenges three months before municipal elections.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP won wide praise in Turkey's liberal circles and financial markets for implementing bold EU-friendly reforms during their first term in office, in what many dubbed a "silent revolution". But with those reforms halted and graft allegations swirling, critics accuse Erdoğan of becoming increasingly autocratic and say the AK Party today resembles the same establishment parties it swept out of power six years ago.SlowdownWith the $700 billion economy slowing, those critics -- in both the liberal middle classes and the moderate Islamic press -- see a danger that painfully realized gains will be squandered in a country facing serious social and economic difficulties on its desired path towards joining the European Union. Markets are grumbling over what they see as dithering in signing a deal with the IMF to shield Turkey from the global economic crisis.Summing up a climate of disillusionment that has extended to traditional pro-AKP constituencies in recent months, a commentator in the religious-leaning Zaman newspaper wrote recently of Erdoğan: "He came like Obama, but turned into some sort of Bush."The AKP, which emerged at 2002 polls as a coalition of religious, center-right and nationalist elements, is still the only viable party in the face of a discredited opposition,... Devamı