ISTANBUL, TURKEY — A Turkish rock guitarist has co-founded a new political party ahead of elections next year in the hope of translating months of summer protests into change at the ballot box.
The Gezi Party [GZP], taking its name from the Istanbul park where the unrest began at the end of May, marks an effort to unite a broad range of demonstrators under one political banner against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.
“In the Gezi Party, chairman means spokesperson. Gezi does not accept any leader,” party chairman Cem Koksal, a 37-year old heavy metal guitarist from Istanbul, said on Twitter.
According to its Facebook page, the GZP - officially registered as Turkey's 77th party - aims to keep the “Gezi spirit” alive. It did not say for which of the upcoming polls - local elections in March, a presidential vote in August and general elections in 2015 - it would field candidates.
A peaceful protest against plans to redevelop Gezi Park spiraled into unrest across Turkey after a heavy-handed police crackdown, drawing together a wide array of demonstrators protesting against Erdogan's perceived authoritarianism.
Turkey's main opposition parties have so far failed to capitalize on the wave of protest, with Erdogan's ruling AK Party, which dominates the Turkish political map, still well ahead in opinion polls across almost all of the country.
Koksal has performed in concerts around Turkey and has released three solo albums. According to his official page on Facebook, he also has toured with former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, but he is far from a household name.