AKP favors Erdoğan as president in 2014

AKP favors Erdoğan as president in 2014

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP favors Erdoğan as president in 2014

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. DHA photo

A senior official and one of the prime minister’s closest aides declared the ruling party’s wish yesterday to see Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as president in 2014, becoming the first government member to formally outline the plan.

“We of course want to see our prime minister as the next president,” Transportation and Communication Minister Binali Yıldırım told Habertürk TV in an interview yesterday. “As you know, however, the next president will be elected through a popular vote.”

Despite an ongoing legal confusion over current President Abdullah Gül’s mandate, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) said the next presidential elections would be held in 2014 instead of 2012 as the oppositional parties claim. With at least two years apparently remaining until the presidential elections, some ruling party members have already started to speculate on who could lead the party in Erdoğan’s absence.

Hüseyin Tanrıverdi, deputy leader of the AKP, said the party would welcome the candidacy of Gül as the AKP’s head in the post-2014 period, but the comment drew serious reaction from his party. The Daily News has learned that Tanrıverdi was urged to correct his statement by senior members in the party, which forced him to make consecutive statements saying he was misunderstood.

In earlier statements, Tanrıverdi said: “He [Abdullah Gül] has political experience. If he wants to get involved in politics once again, politics’ doors are open to him. There is no polarization on this issue. We could work with him again as we did in the past.” Tanrıverdi corrected his statements late Dec. 26, underlining that what he expressed was his personal opinions which had never been discussed formally within the party. “There is plenty of time until 2014. Our mission in Parliament is to write Turkey’s new constitution,” he said.

The idea of Gül’s return to the leadership of the AKP has not been ruled out as a possible scenario but there is no intention of outlining the swap plan beforehand. Party members do not want to block those who would be interested in running for the AKP leadership in a free and fair poll within the party. Alongside Gül, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, deputy prime ministers Ali Babacan and Bülent Arınç and Yıldırım are also seen as potential future leaders.

“I am very much disturbed to hear that my name is also considered among the potential leaders,” Yıldırım said. “It’s very early and senseless to talk about it. We have to concentrate on our projects. This speculation will only serve to cause confusion.”

The discussion on who could lead the AKP in the post-Erdoğan era came to the forefront after the prime minister underwent serious surgery in late November and amid a debate on the length of Gül’s mandate. The AKP has said Gül’s mandate will expire in 2014 and added that it will enact a law formalizing the term limits early next month.

Tanrıverdi also broached the subject of holding local, presidential and parliamentary elections at the same time in 2014 in order to allow Gül to run for the Prime Ministry. Yıldırım said holding parliamentary elections one year earlier instead of in 2015 was possible but added that Parliament would need to decide on the matter. “The presidential elections are set for 2014. Local elections are held every five years and parliamentary elections will be held in 2015. But as you know Parliament can technically take a decision on changing the days of the parliamentary elections. But this is not something to be discussed today,” the transport minister said.

Later attempting to correct his words again yesterday, Tanrıverdi said, “Our custom at the AKP is to hold parliamentary elections on time, which is 2015.”