Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

The Saadet Party factor

As the unemployment figure broke records for the Republic’s history reaching 13.6 percent and the economy narrowed by 6.2 percent in the last quarter of 2008, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking consolation with remarks of the crisis being global. His reluctant approach left its mark on Sunday’s local polls.

Since Erdoğan’s self-confidence has been harmed severely, the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost eight points.

Mr. Prime Minister’s empathy for the poor and the aggrieved this time lost people’s trust for being the only politician who insults people, humiliates credit card debtors and makes remarks of social Darwinism. His expression "The crisis will bypass us" infuriated even conservatives.

I have focused on the theme that the Saadet (Felicity) Party will give the AKP a headache after Numan Kurtulmuş was elected as the new Saadet leader on Oct. 26, 2008. I was the first columnist who brought this to the attention of the media. I even claimed that Erdoğan’s spiritual state had turned upside down since then.

But my biggest claim was:

Due to the Saadet factor, the AKP will not strike a deal with the International Monetary Fund in advance of the local elections.

I made this claim in the midst of October and today we can clearly see the results. The AKP-kissers lost themselves when I made similar comments because my remarks hit a nerve. Those who sided with the former Saadet leader, Necmettin Erbakan, began to breathe fire against the party as the elections approached. They fiercely criticized my referrals to the National View’s power and influence over Saadet and the AKP. They distorted my remarks as though I introduced the National View as the most democratic organization in Turkey. However, figures confirm my thesis today.

Saadet has increased votes from 812,000 in the July 22, 2007 general elections to about 2 million in Sunday’s local polls. Saadet won 1.18 million additional votes on Sunday’s elections, approximately a 2.5 fold increase compared to that of 2007.

So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that almost all of the Saadet’s 1. 18 million extra votes this time came from the AKP; the votes that the governing party lost in 2009, which is 3.1 million compared to those of 2007.

So did other parties of course steal the AKP’s votes but about 38 percent of the votes the AKP lost went to Saadet. This points out to a very critical shift in votes.

Conservatives have realized for a long time that women in headscarves and driving Cherokee jeeps give a different profile than those women wearing headscarves but riding commuter busses. But the conservatives have not voted for the parties different from themselves. And they thought the old version of Saadet is old indeed.

The Saadet, however, has gained momentum with Kurtulmuş and become a new ray of hope for the said conservatives. If the economy professor Kurtulmuş criticizes the economic situation as the way the former President Süleyman Demirel did in a common language of the ordinary and chases after corruption claims in the way the CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu did, he will be able to seriously knock around the AKP. I will curiously follow the Saadet and its leader in the new term.

P.S.: Conservatives have turned to Saadet not because some columnists, including me, wrote so but because they have wanted to do so. I am simply making an analysis.