With Turkish politics turning out to be a “one-man show” more and more, political commentaries are increasingly revolving around the political-personal future of this “one man.” And since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambition to be the next president is no secret, the question of succession has become the topic of the most curiosity. The recent transfer of Numan Kurtulmuş, the president of the People’s Voice (HAS) Party, to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is being evaluated in terms of matter of succession. Many think that he may be Erdoğan’s successor.
Although it is rather early to predict whether he will be the crown prince and how others in the waiting list will react, he seems a perfect candidate for a crown prince-Prince Charles style. First of all, it fits Kurtulmuş’s political-personality since he has always been “the meek son figure” from the time of longtime Islamist leader Necmettin Erbakan.
Up until now, it is thought that Kurtulmuş’s decision to stay with the leader of the National View, Erbakan, when reformists split away to form the AKP resulted from his fidelity to “the cause,” the leader, or both. Then, when he finally broke with Erbakan, it was again not a proper revolt against his former leader and his party. We all thought that it was due to his gentlemanly manners and cautious political style. But now, it seems that Kurtulmuş knew himself better than anyone else that his political personality was apt to being “a second man” rather than a leader and he was craving another strong political (if not father) figure after Erbakan; now, he has found it!
It seems to be a perfect match since it also fits Erdoğan, who has proved that he cannot tolerate any strong personality other than his. In this respect, the other candidates have every reason to be concerned by the transfer of Kurtulmuş. Nevertheless, the AKP leadership candidates should not be the only ones concerned; all of us should be panicking, since this perfect match may have disastrous political results if it works. Because, first of all, if it works, it will mean that the one-man show will continue in Turkish politics. Besides, it will also mean the continuation of the process of the AKP’s regression into nationalist-conservative politics as Kurtulmuş was never able to distance himself from the limits of National View politics and ended up voicing the old nationalistic and paternalistic politics in a new guise. His only objection to the AKP was about the rise of the extravagant ways of the Islamic bourgeoisie, full stop! It was only because any opposition to the AKP was overvalued that his position was elevated to that of Islamic-leftist political criticism in the process of confusing simple-minded puritanism with social democracy.
Despite the fact that I always liked Kurtulmuş as a person due to his very civilized nature, I am afraid we cannot expect him to contribute anything to the AKP’s politics in terms of more democracy and freedoms. On the contrary, we have every reason to worry if he fulfills the expectations of his new leader. If not, he will be consigned to political oblivion, and it will be another worry for a political gentleman who could be more promising.