Erdogan’s AKP party joins Cameron’s conservative political family

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has joined the European Conservatives and Reformists political family, the Turkish government announced yesterday (12 November).

The Turkish government announced in a statement that AKP had abandoned plans to join the centre-right European Peoples’ Party (EPP) and had instead become a member of the Alliance of European Conservative and Reformists and one of the four vice presidencies in the Alliance had been assumed by AK Party Vice Chairman Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu.

The Alliance of European Conservative and Reformists (AECR) confirmed the AKP's membership on its website, along with two other parties, from Romania and the Faroe Islands.

Analysts may struggle to reconcile the AKP's “conservatism”, which stems from Islamic traditionalism, with the conservative ideology of other AECR members, such as David Cameron's Tories, for example. That AKP, which officially aims for Turkey to join the EU, has become part of a largely Eurosceptic political family may also raise eyebrows.

But the UK is more open to Turkey’s EU integration than other EU countries, as an aim of the Tories is to dilute the EU into a looser group of heterogeneous member states.

The AECR was founded on 1 October 2009, after the creation of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) political group in the European Parliament. The ECR group split from the EPP.

The AECR has members from 16 countries, of which 11 are from the EU. But only the UK Tories, the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) represent substantial political forces. In that sense, the addition of the AKP with its 327 members in the Turkish Parliament appears to be a major coup.

Turkey’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is seeking to affiliate itself with the centre-left Party of European Socialists, and is already member of Socialists International. The CHP has 134 seats in the 550-seat Turkish parliament.