What does Yıldırım’s nomination for Istanbul tell?
Law comes first. Article 94 of the Turkish constitution clearly stipulates that the parliament speaker cannot participate in the activities of the political party he or she is a member:
“The Speaker and vice-speakers of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey cannot participate, within or outside the Assembly, in the activities of the political party or party group in which they are a member; nor in parliamentary debates, except in cases required by their functions; the Speaker and the vice-speaker who is presiding over the session shall not vote.”
Yıldırım’s participation in the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) meeting on Dec 29, in which his candidacy has been announced, is, therefore, a clear violation of the constitution. This serious constitutional violation by the Parliament Speaker, who in fact has to show utmost sensitivity on these matters, unfortunately, indicates a characteristic of the executive-presidential system that undermines both the principle of separation of powers and rule of law.
Binali Yıldırım could perfectly resolve this problem and avoid reactions by the opposition parties if he would announce his resignation from the office. However, he has received strong support both from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is, at the same time, the Chairman of the AKP, and from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli. Both men said there was no need for Yıldırım to resign.
Yıldırım, for his part, said all these discussions were not his things and refrained from speaking more on it. That means the Parliament Speaker, who has to preserve impartiality during his tenure, will run for local elections with the AKP ticket and will actively campaign in Istanbul. Obviously, this has not been a good start for Binali Yıldırım.
The second aspect should look into why President Erdoğan has picked Yıldırım for this nomination only six months after the latter’s election as the parliament. Is it because Erdoğan does no longer attach importance to the parliamentary works? Or because he pays a lot of importance to Istanbul?
In 2014 local elections, Erdoğan had decided to nominate Yıldırım for Izmir with hopes that he can win the stronghold of the social democrats. In mid-2016, Erdoğan had pressed on former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to resign from his office due to a number of disagreements and preferred Yıldırım whose loyalty to the president is firm as the prime minister.
Yıldırım has become the last prime minister as Turkey approved a change in the political system. After the June 24 elections, Yıldırım was elected as the parliament speaker, one of the most prestigious places in the Turkish state protocol. Now, he has to quit Ankara politics and run for Istanbul.
When founded in 2001 as a rather a political movement, the AKP had included a number of political heavyweights like Abdullah Gül, Bülent Arınç and Abdüllatif Şener. Over the years with the departure of all these names and a score of reshuffles at the party, Erdoğan is now enjoying an ultimate leadership as both the president and the chairman.
The third aspect of Yıldırım’s nomination can be about the risky position of Istanbul elections. Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good Party (İYİ) will support the former’s nomination, Ekrem İmamoğlu, for Turkey’s largest metropolitan. İmamoğlu, mayor of an Istanbul district, is not a well-known politician but he is believed to be a successful mayor in the city.
He is a young, dynamic politician and can attract the votes of Turkish citizens with Kurdish descent as well as center-right leaning people. Considering that the AKP votes tend to decline especially in the light of worsening economic conditions, winning Istanbul once again is no longer a piece of cake for the AKP.
That’s the main reason why Erdoğan opted to nominate Yıldırım for Istanbul and move him from his prestigious place to the streets of Istanbul.