AKP marks 16th anniversary with ‘re-energization’ plans under Erdoğan
ANKARATurkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in office since 2002, has marked 16th anniversary of its foundation, with party head President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urging the renewal of all provincial organizations ahead of the 2019 elections.
Held in Ankara’s Sincan district, the commemoration brought together current and former lawmakers, founding members and other senior on-duty and former AKP officials to mark 16th anniversary of the party.
President Erdoğan, former President Abdullah Gül, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, former deputy prime ministers and former ministers who served in different AKP governments since late 2002 were among the 6,000 attendees of the commemoration event.
Founded in 2001 under the leadership of Erdoğan, the AKP entered office after winning the first elections in which it took part just 14 months after its establishment.
Apart from a three-year period between 2014 and 2017, Erdoğan has always formally been the leader of the AKP. He left the chairmanship of the party to Ahmet Davutoğlu in 2014 after his election as head of state and returned to the AKP as chairman in May 2017, in line with a set of constitutional amendments that allow the elected president to retain links with a political party.
AKP prepares for 2019 polls
Before the commemoration events, the AKP’s central decision-making body (MKYK) was convened under the leadership of Erdoğan. According to sources, the MKYK reviewed works about a substantial reshuffle of the AKP’s provincial organizations through a detailed study of the 81 provincial heads.
In visits to the AKP’s provincial organizations in the Black Sea region last week, Erdoğan urged party officials to leave their positions to others if they feel tired.
He repeatedly underlined that the AKP is suffering from what he calls “metal fatigue,” saying a substantial regeneration of the party is necessary ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections due in 2019.
“The good old days when we could be the government with 34.5 percent of the vote or even with 49.5 percent are over. You know we amended the constitution in the April referendum. The changes mean that we now need at least 50 percent plus one votes. That’s why our job is now more difficult,” Erdoğan said.
Former President Gül does not attend
Former President Abdullah Gül has notified his absence at the event, AKP spokesperson Mahir Ünal stated, adding that Erdoğan had personally invited him in a phone call.
“Abdullah Gül has informed us that he will not attend the meeting, conveying his excuse. Our president personally called him to invite him and he received an official invitation,” Ünal said after the MYK meeting.
He added that all the former prime ministers and parliamentary speakers who served under AKP governments would be present at the celebrations.
“I personally called and invited Ahmet Davutoğlu. He will attend. Bülent Arınç, Köksal Toptan, Cemil Çiçek and Mehmet Ali Şahin will also be present,” Ünal stated.
Despite being a prominent founding member of AKP, Gül has refrained from attending many political events hosted by President Erdoğan since his term as president ended in 2014.