Erdoğan’s new game plan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech in the southeastern province of Siirt took me back to years ago.
It took me back to the years when he had been imprisoned for a poem he had read in Siirt. His party won the Nov. 3, 2002 elections, but he himself was not able to run for elections.
Later, he was elected as a deputy from Siirt, leaving his mark on Turkey for the last 16 years.
When he was the prime minister, Erdoğan wanted to visit Turkish actor Nejat Uygur in the Gülhane Military Medical Academy (GATA) with his wife Emine Erdoğan. However, Emine Erdoğan had not been allowed in the hospital because of her headscarf. Today, Turkey has been freed of such shame as the headscarf ban.
Former President Süleyman Demirel once said, “Yesterday’s sun cannot dry today’s clothes.” It is true. Those years are now in the past, but they have left their mark. Erdoğan had not been trying to look back on the past during his speech in Siirt. On the contrary, he had plans and objectives for the future.
Change in cabinet
Erdoğan views the 2019 elections as crucial. That’s why he keeps a close watch on it, by meeting with Russian President Putin on the one hand, and rushing to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) conventions on the other hand.
He is preparing for the 2019 elections with a different strategy. Until now, he has considered this period as a period for change in the AK Party. He has made radical changes in local administration. This is how he has arrived at the stage of resurrection from the “metal fatigue.”
In the meantime, he has taken one of the most important steps by forming an election alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Now, there are two stages left in the election of the cadre that will take the AK Party to the 2019 elections: 1- A new Central Decision Making and Executive Council (MKYK) will be elected and 2- there will be a change in the cabinet.
Important changes are expected in the cabinet and party administration. Erdoğan, who has made changes in the AK Party and has secured an alliance with the MHP, is now setting up a new game for the 2019 elections.
He is trying to be elected president with 60 percent of the votes in the first round. This is why he only targets Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as his main opposition. Have you ever noticed him mention İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener? That is because he does not want to mention Akşener or to amplify her name.
Erdoğan has built his 2019 strategy on Kılıçdaroğlu. Kılıçdaroğlu becomes tougher as Erdoğan pushes him, and Kılıçdaroğlu becoming tougher is to Erdoğan’s benefit. This is how he pushes the CHP leader to make a gaffe.
Economy is priority
Economy is in the second phase of the 2019 plan. As one may notice, Erdoğan’s speeches have placed more weight on the economy. He knows the way to win the election is by improving the economic situation. That is why he declared 2018 as the year of performance, growth and employment.
Recently, we have started to see developments regarding the economy speed up. Super incentives prepared by Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi will be announced in a program Erdoğan will attend at the Presidential Palace.
Meanwhile, efforts to improve the investment climate and reduce the interest burden of the public sector have come to an end. Touching on what Erdoğan recently said, “I am clearly stating that you cannot invest with an interest rate of 20 percent”—do not expect a single economic package. There will be regulations to mend the economy in specific time periods. We weren’t talking through our hats when we said Erdoğan has been intervening in the economy.
Meanwhile, the opposition is considering an alliance for the second round of the presidential election. If Erdoğan is qualified for the second round, the opposition is said to focus on the other candidate. I think the opposition should reconsider its strategy because Erdoğan had already shown them a clean pair of heels before they had gone out in the field.