Erdoğan close to candidacy, mulls future AKP
Last week today, Ankara and all domestic polls were all shaken by the attack against the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, in Parliament. It was the first time that a chairman of a political party had been hit in front of cameras and a number of bodyguards under the roof of Parliament. The lax security conditions in the Parliament building, especially on Tuesdays, when political parties hold their group meetings in the presence of dozens of visitors, were easily blamed for the attack.
However, the real reason for such an attack was the sharp language politicians have been using against each other, with
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being the most proficient in this category. For many, the Tuesday speeches of leaders as well as the language they use in public rallies could be categorized as hate crimes.
The perpetrator of the attack against Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly said he was galvanized to hit the main opposition leader after he heard Prime Minister Erdoğan frequently labeling him a traitor.
Just a week after this bitter incident and newly introduced security measures in Parliament, the four leaders of the political parties were again on the floor.
The most interesting speech was from Erdoğan, whose messages were a little bit milder than the past, while the language in which he delivered the message was softer. Compared to his recent parliamentary speeches, he preferred to keep it short this time, and he tried to reach out to opposition parties to tell them that he is ready to reduce the political tension if they are willing to do so as well.
His call to opposition parties to altogether adopt the 1920 spirit, the year when the Parliament was established three years before the foundation of the Republic, to make Turkey one of the most developed countries by the year 2023, the centennial of the Republic, was very remarkable. Although he criticized the opposition, he was careful to not use words like “traitor” or “treachery” for them. It was like he was offering an olive branch to opposition parties before April 23, the 94th anniversary of establishment of Parliament.
One other thing was that he was also very careful in not slamming the Constitutional Court although he is in deep disagreement with the top court. It could be interpreted as a sign he does not want to depict himself as a leader who fights against top state bodies.
What he did in his address was to single out the Fethullah Gülen community as the sole adversary of his government. Although he vowed to clear the judiciary of what he calls parallel judges and prosecutors, he preferred to only refer to the incident in Adana in which the trucks belonging to intelligence organizations were stopped and probed by the police and gendarmerie. He made it clear that the Gülen community and its parallel structure would be his top issue during the presidential campaign.
There are enough indications to predict that Erdoğan is very near to giving his final decision on his presidential candidacy, but he obviously needs to work more to design the AKP in the post-Erdoğan period. Recent changes at the Central Decision and Executive Body (MKYK) could be interpreted as a
sign that Erdoğan has already taken steps to shape the future AKP in a way that he will not lose control of the party if he feels obliged to accept Abdullah Gül’s party leadership and prime ministry.