Clues on Turkey’s government in the new term

Clues on Turkey’s government in the new term

Following the June 24 snap elections, Ali İhsan Yavuz, the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) central executive board, comprehensively evaluated the results.

While the result leaves little room for doubt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reflected at the meeting on the drop in the AK Party’s vote share and its failure to secure single-party government.

“There are some problems with the party. There were mistakes in the deputy candidate lists and there are other problems that we also need to fix,” Erdoğan said.

On June 24 Erdoğan won his 13th election because he is a seasoned politician who is able to read between the lines of the votes.

It wasn’t for nothing when he made his balcony speech after the election win with just his wife by his side. It wasn’t for nothing that he said his party had “received the message that the people sent.”

What this message calls for will be implemented in the shaping of the new government. At the central executive board meeting there was no talk on the foundation of a new government. But with the way Erdoğan spoke it is clear that he is considering the future of a couple of the current ministers.

Erdoğan’s orders for congress and local election

President Erdoğan has come up with the idea of holding the AK Party’s next congress earlier than scheduled. 

“The problems with the party are very important. The congress will be very important in the shaping of the party. So let’s hold the congress earlier. At that next congress we will be able to reshape our party,” he said.

As a result, the congress that was originally scheduled to be held in September is now set to be held on Aug. 18. 

Erdoğan already has his mind on the local elections due to take place in March 2019.

“After the congress we will speed up our preparations for the local election. We will stick to the campaigning atmosphere. But we need to fix the problems with the party: We cannot go into local elections like this. We need to prepare more. The candidates we nominate for mayoralties will be particularly important,” he said at the meeting.

The president is said to be preparing two major changes.

1- He will establish the new government on July 8. It is expected that he will include several ministers who were elected as lawmakers. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s appointment as parliament speaker is almost certain. Yıldırım will thus be parliament speaker for the AKP-Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance, called the “People’s Alliance” during the election campaign. For the position of AKP parliamentary group chair, the name running first is Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ. The new cabinet, consisting of 16 ministers, will also include a number of new names.

2- The party administration will be renewed in the congress on Aug. 18.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan has also urged his party to “stay away from moves that might hurt the MHP,” as the alliance between the parties is set to continue.

The codes of the new term

Three main areas stand out in Erdoğan’s perspective for the coming period: The fight against terror, the economy and foreign policy. 

The economy certainly made an impact throughout the campaign period ahead of June 24. It is seen in Ankara as the primary reason why the AK Party’s vote share fell to 42 percent, and it is the main reason why Erdoğan is now saying: “Economy, economy, economy.”

The word in Ankara is also that fixing Turkey’s relationship with the West is among the top priorities. Could the recent releases of journalist Mehmet Altan and activist Celalettin Can, as well as the talks on lifting the state of emergency, be hints of such an objective? Will the jailed Pastor Andrew Brunson also be freed in his next hearing on July 18?

Erdoğan is one leader who knows how to come to terms, just as he knows how to fight. We will see whether the new term will brings about new hopes with the shift to the new executive presidential governance system.

This very much relies on the AK Party making a return to its original reformist identity.

Abdulkadir Selvi, June 24 elections, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, AKP, Justice and Development Party