Who will be the boss?
Under the Turkish Constitution, the moment a candidate is elected president he is no longer a parliamentarian and should sever all ties with political parties, as the president ought to be above party politics. Because under the Constitution the prime minister must be a parliamentarian, continuing in the prime ministry after being elected president cannot be on the cards anyway.
The Supreme Electoral Council president announced on Sunday night, Aug. 10, that “one candidate” won more than the required majority, so the process to elect the president was completed and there would be no run-off on Aug. 24. President-elect Erdoğan has since placed ads in pro-government media, thanking those who voted to elect him as president. His party has started preparations for an extraordinary convention on Aug. 27 to elect his successor as party leader (and prime minister). But Erdoğan, his party, and the allegiant media defend that until he swears in on Aug. 28 he can legally remain prime minister. That means that Erdoğan wants to administer (and indeed de facto conduct) the succession process in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Even the Aug. 27 convention decision was decided by Erdoğan and revealed that he did not want President Abdullah Gül to return to the AKP once he has left the presidency. Why? He wants to see an AKP leader and prime minister who can be easily remote-controlled or, as is said, someone who he can easily lord it over.
Under the current system the prime minister has all the powers and the presidency has some symbolic functions in governance. Therefore, it has been quite easy for Erdoğan to lord it over Gül for the past seven years. Anyhow, Gül very rarely used his veto power, most of the time government undertakings or laws wanted by the government were announced as having been approved while they were still climbing the Çankaya Hill for presidential consideration. As president Erdoğan, as he has not yet been able to change the Constitution, will have the very same powers that Gül had, while the successor of Erdoğan as prime minister will have the powers that Erdoğan had. That is why, perhaps, Erdoğan seems to be so adamantly against Gül returning to the AKP leadership, even though at least until a by-election or the next general elections he cannot be a prime minister as he is not a parliamentarian.
Still, it will be far easier for Gül, as an AKP leader, than President Erdoğan to lord it over the next premier, even if that person might be Erdoğan’s apparent hand-pick Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
Would Davutoğlu look into the eyes of the party leader, on whose support he would need to stay in office, or the president, who - even if he has other ideas - legally has comparatively limited powers? The formula for a way out, according to cunning Erdoğan, was to shape the AKP leadership and construct the next government while Gül is still in the presidency and cannot indulge in party politics.
What does all this indicate? Is it so important who Erdoğan’s successor will be: A failed yet very opinionated foreign minister or a twerp politician? In any case, Turkey is at the threshold of a massive transformation, and Gül staying around might be a consoling factor for those scared that the country might be heading to a dictatorship.
Some goosy-headed people, on the other hand, are in efforts to belittle the electoral success of Erdoğan, saying he could master only 52 percent of the vote and the participation was very low.
Nonsense. A participation rate of 75 percent is quite high for any democracy, and a 52 percent vote for a candidate is great success anywhere on this planet. Right, Erdoğan wanted more, but what he received deserves full applause even from this writer.