News / Europe

Turkey's Ruling Party Expects to Win Elections

Commuters wait at a bus stop as posters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are sen in the background in Istanbul, Turkey, June 10, 2011
Commuters wait at a bus stop as posters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are sen in the background in Istanbul, Turkey, June 10, 2011

The incumbent Justice and Development Party - or AK Party as it is known in Turkey - is looking forward to winning a third term in the general elections on Sunday. The party launched their election campaign with the slogan, A Vision for 2023. 2023 is the centennial of the Turkish republic. In an exclusive interview with the VOA Turkish Service, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis, one of the party leaders, said that Turkey’s biggest issue is democratization.

He says progress in the democratization process would help solve other political, social and economic problems.

“Traditionally Turkey’s biggest problem is the struggle between the political will of the people or its representatives and the political will of those who have been appointed in the state. As long as this struggle isn’t resolved other daily problems such as unemployment, economic problems, counter-terrorism, concerns on rights and freedoms continue," he said.

Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis (file photo)
Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis (file photo)

"The Justice and Development Party - which rose to power in 2002 and consolidated its power in 2007 - is determined to put the people in charge in 2011.  We are determined to take the most important institutional step to empower the will of the people,” he added.

“For the first time in our history we will take the steps necessary to draft a constitution written by elected civilians. The incumbent and the opposition agree that in this country we do not want a constitution drafted by the military; but a civilian constitution. We will take the necessary steps to draft a constitution that every citizen can own, a constitution that will embrace every citizen,” said Minister Bagis - referring to the new Constitution the JDP government hopes to draft.


Bagis, a member of parliament representing Istanbul, says that democratization is Turkey’s number one priority. However, the opposition in recent times has been arguing that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is increasingly authoritarian and illiberal in its policies. Bagis rejects the claim that authoritarianism is on the rise in Turkey.

“Turkey has never been so transparent," said Bagis. "There used to be taboos in this country. Ten years ago people were afraid to say they were Kurdish. Today the state television broadcasts Kurdish language programming 24 hours a day. Today, Turkish universities have Kurdish studies departments. There is a prime minister that dines with Alevi citizens, a president who has visited a Cemevi for the first time since Ataturk."

"One can freely discuss civil-military relations in Turkey today, you would be afraid to in the past. Religious differences were avoided in Turkey in the past, but now you have an EU Affairs Minister that regularly meets with minority religious leaders. Now, I know that we have some problems, some that take some more time to resolve. But we’re working on this. Following our apprentice period, we are in our professional time - and we can solve Turkey’s chronic problems, we have proven that we can solve them,” he added.

The JDP election manifesto states “Our goal is to make Turkey one of the top 10 economies of the world; with $500 billion in exports; $2 trillion national income; a country at peace with its history and values; with a population that is [...] happy by the year 2023.”

'Economic growth, political stability'

Following the 2001 financial crisis in Turkey an IMF supported reform program laid the foundations for sustained growth in the Turkish economy. Until 2008 Turkey enjoyed an average of six percent annual growth and thanks to a strong banking sector the economy faired relatively well during the global financial crisis. A new middle class emerged in Turkey - especially in Anatolia. Inflation declined to its lowest levels in 30 years.

However, at the same time Turkey has a serious current accounts deficit problem; demand for hot money is a cause of concern and unemployment is a serious problem. Official figures indicate that unemployment is around 12.4 percent; 17 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Bagis says that for economic growth, political stability is a must.

“Unemployment is not just a problem for Turkey but for Europe at large and for the United States. However, our unemployment rate is below the average of the European unemployment rate. There are European countries with 20 percent unemployment. While banks were going bankrupt in Europe and the U.S., not a single Turkish bank in the past nine years suffered a loss. Unemployment is on the decline," he said.

"Yes, it hovers around 10 percent, but our vision for 2023 to bring unemployment below five percent is very strong. God willing, we will bring unemployment lower by taking the necessary steps in the period ahead of us. To create jobs for our unemployed brothers and sisters we must have stability. No one will invest in a country where there is no stability; and there will be no employment in a country that is not invested in…"

"Since we paid attention to stability and security; $17 billion of global capital was injected in Turkey annually.  After the June 12 elections, with four more years of stability, Turkey will become like Brazil, China and Russia in terms of foreign capital investment. And this will bring employment [down],” he continued.

'Turning point'

Minister for EU Affairs, chief negotiator and Istanbul deputy Egemen Bagis said that the June 12 elections will be a turing point for Turkey.

“Turkey, with its 8.9 percent growth rate is the most dynamic European country. With our highly educated, young population - coupled with our economic growth - Turkey will become one of the rising stars of the world,” he said.

The ruling Justice and Development Party hopes to secure 40 - 46 percent of the national vote in the elections on Sunday.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs