The Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) third extraordinary congress yesterday saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan return to the post of AK Party chairmanship after a 998-day hiatus. The first concrete step of the result of the referendum was also taken with this congress.
The April 16 referendum had resulted in a vote of confidence for the presidential government system. The AK Party congress was important as it would give the clues of how the process would shape until 2019.
Hence, this congress differed from the other congresses both in terms of the increased expectation following the referendum and with President Erdoğan's return to lead the AK Party. Of course, its results will also be different.
As the presidential government system is going to take effect in 2019, this congress signifies the opening and start of a new era for Turkey.
The presidential election is not the only election to take place in 2019. The local and parliamentary elections will also be held in 2019. Therefore, the congress held yesterday is the beginning of the national and local changes to happen following the April 16 decision.
Road map for 2019
There is no doubt that the AK Party made changes and transformation in numerus areas throughout its 15 years in power. Economy was one of the fields in which the most radical of changes took place. Today, we are complaining because we have not been able to achieve the goal we desired in economy due to structural problems. Fifteen years ago, let alone goals, we were worried about “how we could save the day." Therefore, the success in economy is a reality that cannot be denied and ignored.
However, comparing with the past and making do with the current state is incompatible with Turkey's economic goals. A new government system, a new start and a new vision were mandatory for the country's economy. Following the April 16 referendum, the congress held yesterday was for a new start for the new government system. What is needed now is a new vision and to take the concrete steps that this vision requires.
“Democracy, Transformation, Reform," reflected in the AK Party's congress, are the primary principles of the vision of the new era. In addition to this, while the new breakthrough period was explained with “Democracy, Transformation, Reform," the themes of freedom, development and welfare were also shared as the headlining topics of this period.
The new road map to be announced for the upcoming six months in particular is very important both in terms of supporting the vision and to show the change brought by the vision. The primary areas to be included in this road map and subjects to be prioritized will determine the direction of change in Turkey, the subjects of development, the steps to be taken for welfare and the policies to be implemented.
In addition to all this, Turkey is now going to be able to focus on its economy agenda. Economy matters that started with the global crisis and later continued with different incidents and most recently caused by the July 15 coup attempt not being at the top of the list made the country's economy lose time and extended the time required to reach where it should be.
Now, it is time to return to the environment in which the political agenda does not delay the economic agenda, which will accelerate the change and transformation in economy.
Need to move away from the middle income and middle democracy trap
However, this situation, in other words, the political agenda taking precedence over the economy agenda, should not mean the two areas are separate from one another. Strong political stability in Turkey guarantees economic stability. Hence, they should progress in a way that they support each other.
One of the indications best reflecting the harmony between political and economic stability is income per capita. Turkey reached the current high middle income group with the political stability achieved after 2002. And now, achieving its goal of joining high income economies is possible only if the political and economic structures work in harmony like an orchestra.
This harmony will show itself in both the economy and the political sphere. Getting out of the middle income trap in economy will enable the increase of the level of welfare and thus, the move away from the middle democracy trap.
As President Erdoğan stated, both the middle income and middle democracy traps are two areas which Turkey needs to avoid.
A new system, a new start and a new vision. The second leg of the process that started with April 16 happened on May 21. Now, it is time to write the economy story of the decision that will take Turkey to its goals.