An invitation for a merger from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) last week to the Voice of the People Party (HAS Party) has prompted many to think about the reasons which might have motivated the AK Party to make such a move.
HAS Party leader Numan Kurtulmuş, who is expected to accept the AK Party's proposal, said on Sunday that consultations within his party continue. Columnists put forward several reasons behind the AK Party-HAS Party merger plans.
Dwelling on the reasons behind the AK Party's aspirations to merge with the HAS Party, Bugün's Gültekin Avcı describes this as a strategic move to shape the AK Party before 2014. He says the AK Party will face two problems ahead of 2014's local and presidential elections. “One of these problems concerns a new leader who will successfully lead the AK Party [after Prime Minister and AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's possible shift to the presidency] while the other one is alternative political parties which will attract voters in the case of the AK Party's losing popularity. With his leadership, Erdoğan was a driving force behind the AK Party's success. Even if current President Abdullah Gül takes over Erdoğan's post, it is obvious that he will not create the same effect as Erdoğan. A successful president is different from a party leader who has the charisma of leadership,” explains Avcı. In his view, the reason behind the AK Party's wish to merge with the HAS Party is to eliminate the prospects of its loss of votes through other such mergers and transfers. “It is meant to tell the voters that ‘alternatives to us are also among our ranks',” says Avcı.
Sabah's Sevilay Yükselir, who says she has not been surprised by the AK Party's invitation to Kurtulmuş as Kurtulmuş has been presenting only soft opposition to the AK Party, thinks nobody -- including Kurtulmuş -- could measure up to Erdoğan's leadership. However, she says, the AK Party had to make such a move to merge with the HAS Party because of an AK Party bylaw which makes it impossible for the AK Party deputies to be elected for three consecutive terms. “In consideration of this, it would not be wrong to say that Erdoğan is right in inviting Kurtulmuş to his party's ranks,” writes Yükselir.
Star's Fehmi Koru interprets the AK Party's move to merge with the HAS Party as an attempt to strengthen support for the party and be more inclusive. He says the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which will hold its ordinary party congress over the weekend, is doing the same thing by calling on figures who were earlier excluded from the party to rejoin the party's ranks.