Erdoğan’s grand plan: New Turkey, new Constitution
The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Central Executive Board will convene Aug. 21 to finalize President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s weeks-long consultations with his party fellows for the election of his successor. This meeting has a particular importance, as it will mark a beginning for Erdoğan to carry out his grand plan for 2015 by establishing its infrastructure.
Erdoğan’s main objective is to win a sufficient majority at Parliament in next year’s elections and to amend the Constitution to adopt the presidential system. Therefore, he believes that the formation of the AKP's new management and the next Cabinet should be planned to this end.
In the first phase, Erdoğan wants to be sure his AKP will be in safe hands in his absence, so that he will enjoy a comfortable tenure throughout his presidency. It’s more or less likely that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will be announced as the next AKP chairman on Thursday, Aug. 21. Contrary to expectations, Erdoğan is not seeking a temporary chairman, in order not to weaken the party by creating loopholes in the party management. Therefore, Erdoğan’s plan is to keep the AKP intact, united and strong.
In the second phase, the AKP will convene an extraordinary congress on Aug. 27 to officially elect the next chairman, a day before Erdoğan takes office from outgoing President Abdullah Gül. One of the first things Erdoğan will do is give the mandate to form the government to the AKP’s new chairman. The formation of the Cabinet is equally important, as this government will also not be a temporary one and will take the AKP to next year’s elections.
The Cabinet is expected to be strengthened with the joining of Yalçın Akdoğan, Erdoğan’s closest advisor; constitutional law expert Mustafa Şentop; Mahir Ünal, and Numan Kurtulmuş. Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler and Interior Minister Efkan Ala will keep their positions in the Cabinet.
Strictly loyal to the implementation of the three-term rule, Erdoğan is of the opinion that it helps the AKP’s regeneration. Some 70 lawmakers will therefore not be able to run for Parliament in next year’s polls, meaning one-third of the AKP’s parliamentary group will be renewed.
At the core of Erdoğan’s grand plan is the 2015 elections, which constitute a critical juncture, as they will be the last polls until 2019. The majority that the AKP will achieve at Parliament will be Erdoğan’s main tool for shaping the period between 2015-2019. The president-elect’s ambitions to amend the Constitution and adopt a presidential system will depend on the AKP’S 2015 performance.
In the speech he delivered to his party fellows right after presidential elections, he said he was hoping that the next party leadership will receive a sufficient majority at Parliament to be able to amend the Constitution. What Erdoğan has in mind is to adopt the presidential system implemented in the United States, or the semi-presidential system of France.
We will hear the motto, “The new Constitution in the new Turkey” very frequently from Erdoğan and the next AKP government, especially on the eve of elections. One should not be surprised if Erdoğan actively campaigns for the AKP before the elections, as he has already heralded an overhaul of the customary rules of the state.