ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily)—Three lawmakers of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who were sent to the party’s disciplinary committee after publicly expressing criticism over the recent graft scandal that has shaken the country, announced their resignation from the party on Dec. 27.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government was hit by a corruption scandal involving a number of the prime minister’s cabinet members on Wednesday. The scandal emerged after police revealed ongoing investigations into cases of political graft and corruption involving Erdogan’s government. Matters were made worse when the investigations were then forcibly ended by Erdogan’s government.
Former Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, Member of Parliament Erdal Kalkan and Member of Parliament Haluk Özdalga announced their resignations from the party after the AKP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) decided in a meeting late Dec. 26 to discipline them due to their “verbal and written remarks stigmatizing [the] party and the government.”
The three lawmakers are joining former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin in resigning over the graft investigation in which four ministers, all replaced by a cabinet reshuffle on Dec. 25, have been implicated.
Günay, a senior figure who drew attention with his criticisms on social media following the police crackdown on demonstrators during the Gezi protests, said he was “parting ways” with the AKP during a press statement on Dec. 27.
“The party evolved in two different wings: The wide base of people who have been oppressed and an overbearing mentality on the top. This mentality has no chance now. At this point, those people [who have this mentality] are sailing to somewhere else, guided by their arrogance. We have come to the point of parting ways,” he said.
Kalkan also announced his resignation from the AKP before waiting for the final decision of the committee via Twitter, taking aim at his party for showing defiance against corruption allegations. “I resign from the AKP letting you know that the world is turning and our people are not stupid,” Kalkan said, slamming Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for not accepting any internal criticism inside the AKP.
Police Crackdown amid Renewed Protests
The police have staged a crackdown on protesters who took to the streets in Istanbul Dec. 27 in light of the government scandal.
In scenes that were reminiscent of the nationwide Gezi protests, riot police fired tear gas and water cannons against a group of protesters who were attempting to gather in Istanbul’s iconic İstiklal Avenue in the Taksim area.
Police also fired rubber bullets against protesters. Many ambulances and fire trucks were seen entering the pedestrian road following the crackdown. Daily Radikal reporter covering the protest was among those shot by rubber bullets. She is said to be fine and could continue reporting from the scene. Some of the protesters hurled fireworks to the riot police officers.
Footages and photos showed municipality workers closing the street cameras in the surroundings of the Taksim area ahead of the demonstration.
Protesters, who gathered upon a call that spread via social media, urged the government to resign over the accusations that led to the resignations of three ministers.
Protesters chanted “Everywhere bribery, everywhere corruption,” reminiscent of the slogan “Everywhere Taksim, everywhere resistance” that became the motto of the Gezi protests.
Turkish Lira Plummets
The ongoing government and judiciary crisis have rattled markets, pushing the lira to a fresh record low of 2.1750 against the U.S. dollar, sending the stock market plummeting to its lowest in 17 months, while the Euro reached an all-time high by passing 3 liras for the first time. The corruption scandal that has exposed fissures in the ruling AK Party before next year’s elections has taken a heavy toll on Turkish financial markets, with stocks set for their worst weekly performance since 2008.
The country’s main index, BIST 100, fell over four percent since the beginning of the day, being traded at around 61,900 points as of 11.45 a.m.