MURAT YETKİN > Erdoğan wants to rule for at least ten more years

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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan made it crystal clear in his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Parti) congress in Ankara on Sept. 30 that he wanted to secure power in the country until at least 2023, even if it required constitutional changes.

“As long as my soul remains in my body we will be together - perhaps in different offices, under different titles,” Erdoğan addressed an enthusiastic crowd and impressive list of visitors from around the world - from Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi and Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government leader Massoud Barzani to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schoeder.

Erdoğan’s words about the body and the soul and serving under different titles were partly in reference to his promise not to stay as party chairman after three consecutive terms, and partly in reference to the series of elections ahead of Turkey, particularly the presidential elections in 2014. The year 2023 also has symbolic value in Turkish politics, as it is the 100th year of the establishment of the Turkish Republic.

In a booklet summarizing the party’s “2023 vision” there are two interesting articles. The first one states: “the issues of the presidential, semi-presidential and president-with-party membership systems should be debated.” The other states: “The country should have a new constitution, whatever the circumstances.” Erdoğan also thinks that Turkey should have a new electoral system aimed at stability and fairer representation.

It is possible to interpret those words as meaning that he wants to be the Turkish president in 2014, whatever the cost. But this would fail short of understanding Erdoğan’s real aim. He wants to have the power to rule Turkey until at least 2023, “with the help of God,” and he makes it clear that he does not want to share executive power with anybody else. Despite the fact that Article 104 of the current Turkish constitution - voted for in 1982 under military rule following the 1980 military coup - grants extraordinary powers to the president (which no president has really ever attempted to use, in order to avoid an in-house dispute), Article 8 of the constitution divides the power between the president and the Cabinet. Erdoğan said there was “no strife” within the party, adding that “neither should there be” - an expression that was not in the delivered text. This indicates future concerns to us.

It would be unfair to comment at this stage as to whether those expressions referred to the possible candidacy of President Abdullah Gül for a second term in 2014. However, Erdoğan certainly implied that he had the power to try to transform the Turkish political system into a “prime ministerial” one in which the president would only have symbolic office and duties, which would definitely require a new constitution.

Erdoğan made his first move for a new political design in Turkey at the AK Parti congress on Sunday. But it was not an untarnished one, as six national newspapers - mostly opposed to AK Parti policies - were barred from entering the congress hall to cover the big story there.


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mara mcglothin

10/2/2012 3:26:24 PM

GUNEY PLEASE wake up before it is too late. Everyone is sitting around and waiting. He has been touching you liberties for some time now!!!! By the time to think to react, it wlll be too late! Remember democracy is like a train and you are free to get off at your stop!

US Observer

10/2/2012 1:31:24 PM

you're right dogan, there is no opposition. Why is that? You think it may have soemtihng to do with Erdogan crushin all opposition while abusing his office? He has planted his people in all sectors of society, got rid of military and media opposition, and assumed control over the police. Everyone should demand he get out of the public sector for the good of the country.

In A Flap

10/2/2012 11:12:28 AM

will he then pass on power to his children? sounds like a dictator in the making.

Faruk Timuroglu

10/2/2012 1:21:07 AM

If Erdogan achieves what he wants, it would be the end of democracy in Turkey, if not the end of Republic of Turkey, so, there won’t be 100th anniversary to celebrate. The President Gül may try to save the appearance of democracy at least, even if it would be still the “advanced” one. The one who “doesn't want to share executive power with anybody” would be a dictator.

John Dough Nut

10/2/2012 12:26:31 AM

May God help you Turkey,Atatürk will be turning in his grave. Wake up! Your country is becoming Islamised.

Guney Levent

10/1/2012 7:08:25 PM

@Rimon Tree It's getting better every year. It started with sharia-law and now some people compare Erdogan to Hitler. If Erdogan touches our liberties we will react. For the moment we don't have to complain. On the contrary we are satisfied.

dogan kemal ileri

10/1/2012 6:51:11 PM

All you monotone foreign observers are forgetting one most important thing and that is Turkiye does not have a creditable opposition who could organise a tea party never mind run a government.Erdogan in no fool he has surrounded himself with Turkiye's best talent and solidly occupies Turkiye's centre of politics and is immoveable.Why because the majority of the electorate adore him and are enjoying success the likes of which Turkiye hasn't seen in decades. So you have to like it or lump it.

Hakan Salci

10/1/2012 4:36:48 PM

Whats wrong with the picture here? Journalists, writers etc. are beyond themselves that our Great Leader wants to rule for another 10 years! Have you no sense of what democracy is or should be? In the US you cannot be President for more than 2 terms; in the UK even Thatcher was eventually ousted from her party after over a decade of service and yet in Turkey we are being told that to stay in power forever is a 'natural' thing. This is nothing but dictatorial behaviour and the end of democracy.

mara mcglothin

10/1/2012 4:12:57 PM

GUNEY Because it promotes authoritative rule and does NOT promote democracy. If Turkey wants to have a king, pasha or sultan and they voted for it would that be okay? There are many in the USA who would still be voting for Clinton or Reagan and that does not foster democracy at all. You serve your country and then you go back to your personal life. I think the choice of "Rule" in the headline is all wrong. Would have been better to say "Govern"

Rimon Tree

10/1/2012 3:50:21 PM

@ Guney Read my answer at the main article!
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