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ANKARA WHISPERS > The search for new faces in the AKP

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AKP supporters cheer and wave national and party flags in the third congress of the party in Ankara on Oct. 3, 2009. REUTERS photo

AKP supporters cheer and wave national and party flags in the third congress of the party in Ankara on Oct. 3, 2009. REUTERS photo

Göksel Bozkurt Göksel Bozkurt goksel.bozkurt@hurriyet.com.tr

The countdown has begun in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The party will hold a major congress on Sept. 30, where it will probably undergo the most comprehensive and critical renewal since it was formed in August 2001. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has plans to ascend to the Çankaya presidential mansion, will attempt to redesign the AKP in his own image. 

The main reasons for change are the facts that Erdoğan will quit the chairmanship, and that 73 names will need to take a break because of the three-term ban in the party’s statute. There is also the erosion effect that the long rule of 10 years has had. There is more than one name that has been occupying a ministerial seat for 11 uninterrupted years. 

This congress will create an opportunity for the party to rid itself of mental fatigue, to renew itself, to get younger, and to prepare for the 2014 process. Erdoğan knows this very well. An AKP in which he is no longer influential, in which a breakdown in relations over many years has reached the top level, in which the staff is exhausted, would not be able to proceed as strongly as it has done up to now. For this reason, he plans to renew the AKP before he leaves, and to design it so that those names he can trust are in charge. There should be such a design that both Erdoğan can be comfortable with in Çankaya, and that also introduces the staff who can carry the party forward to the future. 

Who will stay and who will go? Will the Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), the Parliament administration, and the Cabinet, change completely? Only one name, Erdoğan, knows the answers to these questions. But the corridors are being stirred up. The expectation within the AKP is that Erdoğan will not limit the change only to the party administration. The first clue came from the MKYK last week.

Erdoğan instructed the members of the MKYK to fill out a questionnaire and give the 50 names they wished to see in the party administration. He wanted them to write down the party administrators, ministers and parliamentary group leaders, and to propose new names to replace the old. Not only this, Erdoğan also stressed that they may include names from other parties, or even names who are not currently affiliated to any party. He expected names to come from a broad spectrum: from arts to sports, from nongovernmental organizations to the business world, from academia to bureaucrats…
This questionnaire actually revealed what Erdoğan had in his mind for the future structure. He seems to be planning to introduce new names to the AKP, a party that has 11 years in government behind it.

He is aiming to strengthen, renew and refresh the party in the congress with new names. The recent addition of both Numan Kurtulmuş and Süleyman Soylu is part of this plan. After the MKYK, it was spoken more loudly that Erdoğan was to make one-to-one contacts before the congress, and to then introduce surprise names into the AKP administration. There is an expectation that more focus will be made on the business world, academia, and top level bureaucrats. 

It is being whispered that Erdoğan will keep certain experienced names in the MKYK, and that he will opt for a 50 percent renewal. Maybe he wants to complete the renewal process before he ascends to Çankaya and thus be able to oversee a healthy transition period. The first test will come in the fall of 2013, when local elections are scheduled to take place early, after a deal with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). These elections, held early in order to take place while Erdoğan is still the AKP leader, will represent a platform at which the AKP’s new process will be tested. They will also provide a significant opinion poll ahead of the Çankaya presidential election.

GES takes a new name under MİT

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) took over the control of the Joint Staff Electronic Systems Command (GES) on Nov. 21, 2011. This unit of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was an important entity that would also conduct wiretappings. The new name of this unit then became the MİT GES Directorate. However, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz’s answer to CHP deputy chairman Umut Oran’s parliamentary question revealed that the directorate’s name has changed again. On May 15, 2012, the unit was renamed as the “MİT Signal Intelligence Directorate” (SİB). 

“With this response, we learned that a new institution has been introduced to the world of intelligence. Now we have a ‘Signal Intelligence Directorate.’ Everyone knows how effective this unit was when it was run by the army. I hope the directorate will effectively serve our national interests under MİT’s rule, rather than scrutinizing opponents, students, workers and the CHP,” Oran said.

CHP plans to bring censure motions

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu has intimated bringing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to the Supreme Court over Syrian soldiers in Hatay camps. Ultimately, Kılıçdaroğlu plans to bring forth censure and investigation against Erdoğan and Davutoğlu. As part of the Constitution and internal regulations, the prime minister and ministers could be sent to the Supreme Court with a parliamentary vote following an investigation. Even though there are not enough members who would support such a motion, it seems the CHP wants to keep the matter on the agenda in the long term.

September/03/2012

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