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MURAT YETKİN

murat.yetkin@hurriyet.com.tr

MURAT YETKİN > An early start for Çankaya

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Everyone in Turkey who takes an interest in politics has been expecting a face-off regarding the Turkish presidential elections in 2014. But not many would have expected that it would be started by President Abdullah Gül himself, and so early.

It surfaced with an interview given by presidential spokesman Ahmet Sever to Rusen Çakır in the July 30 edition of the Vatan newspaper. In the interview, Sever said that Gül was upset and over some comments made by some figures in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), claiming that he would not be a candidate for presidency again in 2014.

If we consider that Gül, as a founder of the AK Party, was elected president with AK Party votes on August 28, 2007, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan wants to proceed up to the Presidential Palace on top of Çankaya Hill in Ankara after 2014, it is no surprise that Sever’s words have changed the political agenda.

A reply to Sever came from Hüseyin Çelik, deputy chairman of the AK Party. So Gül’s presidential spokesman was answered by Erdoğan’s party spokesman. Reminding Sever that it was Erdoğan who had suggested Gül as his candidate, Çelik said it was now Gül’s turn to make a goodwill gesture. In a sense, Çelik was asking Gül to step aside and open the road to Çankaya for Erdoğan.

Gül’s reply to that, given while receiving a delegation yesterday, was that there is still a lot of time to talk about those issues. So, Gül thinks there is something to discuss as to who should be the next president, and his obvious counterpart would naturally be Erdoğan, when the time comes.

This wouldn’t mean much before a ruling by the Constitutional Court (upon an objection from the main opposition CHP [People’s Republican Party]) on June 15, 2012. The court said that contrary to the law approved by AK Party votes in Parliament, Gül could be a candidate for a second five years, following his seven years in office, according to the former law which was amended via a referendum on Oct. 21, 2007.

Gül, as a result, may or may not be a candidate again. But the speculations concerning his desires by his former fellows have seemingly made him furious. And even if he decides not to be a candidate, this would not be without a detailed discussion, perhaps a face-off, if not political bargaining with Erdoğan.

July/31/2012

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