AKP to weigh up 'the public's tendencies' before key presidential decision
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is poised to become the AKP's candidate for president in the upcoming August elections.As the ruling party prepares for its three-day camp where it will discuss strategies for the upcoming presidential election, its spokesperson has said the decision “will not be made hastily,” as the party will “also consult with the public.”
“Do not expect any statement [on the candidacy] at the moment. It could even come at the end of May or in June. We are going to conduct public opinion polls to take the people’s pulse. We are a party working seriously and systematically,” Hüseyin Çelik, deputy leader and spokesperson of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), told reporters at a press conference on May 8.
Çelik recalled that the deadline for delivering the candidacy application to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) was July 3 and that all of the parties still had time to work to determine their candidates.
The AKP’s lawmakers, party founders and its high-level executives will come together today at a hotel in Afyonkarahisar as part of their internal consultations before deciding who to choose to run for presidency and who to replace Erdoğan as the prime minister if he decides to be one of the contenders.
Çelik criticized two opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who are talking increasingly openly about naming a common candidate to stand against Erdoğan in the presidential bid.
“Unlike them, we’ll appoint our own candidate and we are not going to make an alliance with any political party. We are not making it with the BDP [Peace and Democracy Party] as some suggest. We are only going to ally with our people,” he said.
Çelik responded sarcastically to MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli’s call for Erdoğan to resign from the Prime Ministry immediately if he decides to run in the election, scheduled for August. “Your wish is our command! He thinks we’ll listen to him. It’s an unnecessary issue. If Mr. Erdoğan decides, he will run for the presidency as the prime minister and the chairman of the AK Party,” he said.
Repeating that Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül were “not going to be rivals” and there will be “no disagreement whatsoever” between them or inside the AKP, Çelik said they were aware that the main aim of the opposition was to create division within the ruling party. “Mr. Gül and Erdoğan are not rivals. They are inseparable parts,” he said.