Political allegiances are under pressure in Turkey, as at least 800 members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the western Turkish city of Izmir have switched to the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the Turkish local daily, Zaman, has reported.
The CHP mayoral candidate, Serdar Sandal, for his part, welcomed the former AKP members, in a ceremony where he voiced his support for the rethink by the now-former enthusiasts of the policies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He considered the 800’s decision was a “step in the right direction.”
In its defence, Erdogan’s AKP Izmir branch published a statement repudiating their claims of party membership, stating they never were part of the AKP.
Erdogan’s unorthodox policy on interest rates, a rift with Washington that led to US tariffs and sanctions, and worries over the central bank’s independence, are blamed for prompting the financial crisis in 2018.
In 2019, Turkey entered a recession, recording two consecutive quarters of falling economic growth, which economists had been long warning about, as foreign investment in Turkey had dried up. Investors had grown wary of Erdogan’s governance, especially his enforced economic policies.
Even though the AKP won 76% of the votes in Turkey's 2018 legislative elections, the ailing economic situation, and the lowered purchasing power of citizens is predicted to lead to the AKP losing major cities, in the forthcoming local elections slated for March 31st.
Also, AKP organization chief Mehmet Kurun, from the central Turkish city of Konya, has announced his resignation from the party, in what is speculated to signal an exodus of AKP members.
“The support of the people in the region for our party is dwindling day by day because of wrong policies,” Kurun said in a statement released after the resignation. He said he did not want to be held responsible for the party's defeat in the region.