Turkish PM raises expectations for imminent Cabinet revision
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
PM Erdoğan is known to frequently have surveys conducted regarding the approval levels of ministers among the party’s grassroots members as well as among the entire society. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZA possible Cabinet revision has long been a leading agenda item in Turkish politics and most recently it was expected to be carried out by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his ruling party’s grand congress on Sept. 30.
It didn’t happen during the congress, either, with Erdoğan so far being tight-lipped in response to questions on the timing of such a change. Yet, speaking to journalists onboard a plane en route to Istanbul from Dakar the morning of Jan. 11, Erdoğan left the door open to an imminent revision.
“Anything can happen at any time,” Erdoğan said in response to insistent questions.
Over the past few months, the prime minister constantly played down expectations of a major Cabinet reshuffle, while stressing that the “skeleton of his team” would remain intact.
Unpopular names to be left out
The weighing expectations within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as within circles close to the party leadership are that Erdoğan will prefer a minor reshuffle. As for the outgoing members of the Cabinet, he is likely to pick names that are not popular among the party’s grassroots. Erdoğan is known to frequently have surveys conducted regarding the approval levels of ministers among the party’s grassroots members as well as among the entire society.
The new names to replace the outgoing ministers may be chosen from those senior lawmakers who have long been expecting to become a member of the Cabinet.
Deputy parliamentary group chairs of the party – Nurettin Canikli, Mustafa Elitaş and Mahir Ünal – the AKP’s Secretary-General Haluk İpek, Parliament’s Internal Affairs Commission head Muammer Güler and Parliament’s Health Commission head Cevdet Erdöl are cited among those names.
Other than those senior figures, AKP Deputy Chair Numan Kurtulmuş who, along with a group of close associates, joined the ruling party last year after his People’s Voice Party (HSP) dissolved itself, may obtain a seat as well.
The ministers whose names are mentioned the most as outgoing possibilities are Health Minister Recep Akdağ, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Education Minister Ömer Dinçer, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker and Environment and Urbanism Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar.
According to the AKP’s statute, election of deputies and mayors for a fourth consecutive term to the same position is possible only after a one-term break. Some ministers who are in this situation are likely to be assigned as mayoral candidates in the upcoming local elections in March 2014. However, Erdoğan is not expected to rush to replace these veteran names.
Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, known for his hawkish stance on the Kurdish issue, may be replaced at a time when the government is seeking to end the conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) through involving imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in a peace process.