The HAS Party has yet to make a decision regarding the offer, but a majority of columnists believe that it will accept and that the merger of the parties will serve to increase Turkey’s process of democratization as well as the AK Party’s power in the political arena.
Bugün’s Ahmet Taşgetiren thinks the two parties will most probably merge in the end and that it will be to Turkey’s benefit. It would be healthier in a political sense if there had been a strong opposition party from the right wing against the AK Party. Before the HAS Party, the Felicity Party (SP) had such a mission, but the AK Party’s dominant politics stood in the way of these two parties becoming politically stronger. And the HAS Party must have realized that there is almost no chance that they will be able to constitute a powerful alternative to the AK Party, which is why Taşgetiren strongly believes they are going to accept Erdoğan’s offer.
As for Kurtulmuş’s role in the AK Party, the Bugün columnist says rumors that Kurtulmuş will be a candidate for the party’s leadership role is quite a premature speculation and that such useless speculation can only weaken the party. According to Sabah’s Mehmet Barlas, if the HAS Party merges with the AK Party, it will be a win-win situation for both parties. But the party that will see the biggest benefit from this merger will be the AK Party. Remaining in power for 10 years batters and isolates a party, which is exactly what has happened to the AK Party. On the one hand, constant economic growth, reforms to substructure and superstructure, steps taken in terms of democratization, civilianization, freedoms and the Kurdish issue are huge achievements of the AK Party’s 10 years in power. However, on the other hand, Erdoğan’s “the only man” position in the party has caused the party to lose some support. As a result of linking the party only to one man, Erdoğan’s controversial statements and unexpected moves have recently made voters forget about the pros of the party. Also in a developing country like Turkey, even if you solve 10 problems, another 10 new problems tend to emerge. And even if you don’t plan to, “deep state reflexes,” where the ruling party appoints acquaintances to high positions, tend to influence a government after a 10-year period in power. In this sense, including the HAS Party will lead to a renewal in the AK Party and an opportunity for them to hear the public’s expectations, which they have been ignoring lately, Barlas notes. Describing Kurtulmuş “a man of character,” Barlas says he has known Kurtulmuş since his first day in politics and that he has always stood out as an independent and fair man who knows his responsibilities well and tries to stay away from demagogy.
As for the AK Party’s aim in offering to merge with the HAS Party, columnists argue that it aims to increase its votes and is also a mark of the AK Party’s respect for the party as Erdoğan is known to have a deep regard for Kurtulmuş and will thus most likely offer him an important position in the party. Milliyet’s Taha Akyol thinks that votes from small parties such as the HAS Party are not that important or influential for a ruling party, but what matters most here is the synergy that the union of the two parties will create. He also argues that Erdoğan is planning to further strengthen his party because in the event that he is elected as the new president, Erdoğan will be quite a powerful president, but on the other hand he can’t risk losing his party’s power. The offer made to the HAS Party serves Erdoğan’s aims of strengthening his party, he thinks.