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THE CORRIDOR : The Justice and Development Party’s inside ’opposition’ move

Is a "clandestine opposition" evolving in the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP? Is the opposite stance that emerged during the landmine bill discussions being transformed into an opponent movement in town and province organizations of the party? What’s going on in the AKP?

Nothing has been the same in the AKP since the Cabinet revision. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ignored the names that were waiting to have a seat in the Ministers Council. He neither renewed the Central Executive Council nor the Parliamentary Group administration, therefore offending a group of AKP deputies. Problems keep occurring in the party organizations. Province caucuses witness fights. The AKP group administration faces difficulties to work in Parliament despite Erdoğan’s warning "People did not send you here to follow-up business." A former minister directly asks Erdoğan: "The fields are not fertile? Why are we insisting on the landmine bill? Is there anything behind that we don’t know of?" A female deputy is asking, "If everything is handled in the Cabinet why do we have deputies?" A group of AKP representatives is seriously disturbed by the situation. The picture is seen clearer now with the resistance to the landmine bill. Since Erdoğan is not addressing deputies directly, annoyance is spreading. And the situation is naturally being mirrored onto town and province bodies. Two lists were formed in Aksaray and Tekirdağ province conventions though Erdoğan ordered to have "one candidate, single list." As the party administration failed to bring the sides to the agreement, members fought in both conventions. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan had to return from Aksaray due to the fight inside the convention arena. And the fight in the Tekirdağ caucus took place after State Minister for EU Relations Egemen Bağış left the building. Province conventions will continue until late July. The AKP will hold the grand convention in fall and elect the Central Decision-Making and Executive Council members.

Erdoğan, aware of the disquiet, is taking some measures to prevent a "fight among opponents," which possibly affects the party administration in the grand convention. Erdoğan plans to overcome this process by the "single list" formula without pain. He wants to form "no opponent, no harm" new staff that will carry the party to 2011 elections. The prime minister, in a way, has intentions to bring the inner-party power struggle under control.

Why was the charter change shelved?

Just a month ago, constitutional change was on political agenda. The AKP had set up a commission, reviewed some 10 articles and prepared a draft. The AKP spokesmen were stressing the necessity of a Constitution change as the opposition leaders Deniz Baykal and Devlet Bahçeli were fiercely standing against it. Erdoğan himself announced several articles to be changed: "Via the Venice Criteria making political party closures more difficult, 100 Turkey deputyships, granting the right for individuals to apply to the Constitutional Court and ombudsmanshipÉ" Nowadays we often hear "We’ll bring it in fall." But what happened that the constitutional change was shelved. The AKP had no chance to seek any changes without reaching consensus with the opposition, according to Parliament’s arithmetic. So, is the AKP using the situation knowingly and trying to corner the opposition? Is the AKP planning to create the atmosphere, "They are raising objections to everything," an image of the opposition that they are impossible to reach agreement and convey a message to the European Union? Or is the AKP collecting trump cards against the opposition for a possible election in 2010? Apparently, this fall will be hotter than summerÉ

’Israel’s envoy came for CHP!’

The Republican People’s Party, or CHP, raising objections to the landmine bill, claimed that the cleaning process would be awarded to an Israeli firm. As the bill was being discussed in Parliament the other day, a visitor came to Parliament. Israeli Ambassador to Ankara Gaby Levy, he was. Reporters couldn’t figure out who Levy would visit. In the meantime, CHP İzmir deputy Ahmet Ersin was fiercely reacting against Levy: "They want to mark Parliament. Meaning, the government will award the project to an Israeli firm." Levy ended his visit. As he left the building, CHP Manisa deputy Şahin Mengü was accompanying him. The ambassador was there to visit Mengü not the AKP deputies. The two had Turkish coffee together. Upon hearing it, CHP’s Ersin burst into laughter, "It seems that the ambassador was here for the CHPÉ"