As it happened: Turkey’s ruling party elects Davutoğlu as new chair
ANKARATurkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has elected Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as its new chair during its extraordinary congress at the Ankara Arena Sports Hall.
Outgoing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, elected president Aug. 10, announced moments before the convention that the new government will be formed Aug. 29. Davutoğlu, who is expected to form the new government on Aug. 28, was the only candidate to take over the party chair.
Hürriyet Daily News editor-in-chief Murat Yetkin, Ankara bureau chief Serkan Demirtaş and News Editor Özgür Korkmaz were in the congress hall.
Here are the live updates as they happened throughout the day:
17:53 - Davutoğlu concludes his speech with a joke in reference to the air conditioning failure in the hall: "Mr. President [Erdoğan] had called for a president and prime minister who work so hard that they sweat. Today, due to the heat, all of us sweated."
17:50 - "We are now targeting the 2015, 2019 and 2023 general elections. Our unity is a sign that we will get enough votes next year to change the Constitution," Davutoğlu said.
17:48 - Davutoğlu thanks delegates in his acceptance speech, stressing that he now shoulders a "heavy responsibility." He also voices gratitue for Erdoğan. "This is a first in Turkish political history as the ruling party has elected a new chair without any disagreement. We thank Mr. President," Davutoğlu added. He also stressed that presidential takeover ceremony scheduled for tomorrow would be another "first" in this regard.
17:34 - Davutoğlu has been elected as AKP's new chair with the votes of 1382 delegates. 1388 delegates voted in the congress. Six votes were invalid.
17:15 - Voting ends, counting of ballots begins.
16:43 - An announcement has been made to call the delegates who still have yet to vote.
15:51 - Davutoğlu concludes his speech. Voting begins.
15:50 - Davutoğlu's speech is replete with historic and religious symbolism, with references to the Prophet Muhammad, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as well as the political predecessors of the ruling AKP.
15:42 - Davutoğlu stresses that the accession process with the European Union will remain a strategic target for Turkey. "But Turkey will continue to use its strategic power in the region" independent of the EU, he adds, using the example of Turkey abolishing visas with 74 countries.
15:20 - Davutoğlu has also slammed last year's Gezi Park protests and the corruption investigations for trying to "overthrow the government." “The goals of the Gezi incidents and the Dec. 17 and 25 plots aimed to destroy the self-assurance that we have instilled in the people,” he said, describing the AKP’s 12 years in power as a “restoration” period.
15:00 - Davutoğlu also vowed that AKP will continue the Kurdish resolution process "with determination." He also rejected any approach based on sectarianism. “Our Alevi citizens are essential constituents of this land,” Davutoğlu said.
14:50 - Davutoğlu addresses Erdoğan as “my president” and assures that the convention is not one of "farewell" but of "fidelity." “We are ready to make any sacrifice to carry the AKP movement to its goals,” he said.
14:40 - Davutoğlu takes the stage for his speech.
14:03 - Davutoğlu has been nominated as a candidate for the AKP chairmanship after receiving signatures from all of the 1,245 AKP delegates attending the Congress.
13:45 - Outgoing President Gül sent a message to the Congress wishing success for both the new AKP chair Davutoğlu and his successor President Erdoğan.
13:10 - "The time for farewell has come," Erdoğan says, promising to keep in touch with party supporters "but perhaps not so frequently anymore." "I'm sure you see how hard it is for me to leave. I've seen the tears of brothers, sisters. The AK Parti is like my child. God bless you all," he said.
13:03 - Erdoğan devoted much of his speech to bashing Gülen's followers, suggesting that those who left the ruling party upon instruction from Gülen would eventually sink into oblivion. “The ones who say ‘The cause doesn’t exist if I am not in it’ are the ones who were lost from the beginning. Those who say ‘The cause doesn’t proceed if I am not in it,’ are those who couldn’t understand the cause. You should know that today, nobody remembers or will remember those who resigned upon telephone calls from beyond the ocean and those who bowed to threats by the putschists,” he said.
13:01 - Erdoğan slams judges, particularly the Council of Presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeals, claiming that they sided with the "parallel structure," a reference to the public servant followers of Pennsylvania-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, his former ally. "The struggle against this parallel structure that betrayed the country, as well as with the bureaucratic tutelage, will continue decisively and bravely," Erdoğan said, inviting Gülen to Turkey once again. "The legal system in Turkey cannot be a toy ... I believe that our patriotic judges and prosecutors will clean the ‘hashashis’ in their ranks, removing the shadow cast on our legal system," he added.
12:36 -"The AK Parti is not only a party of Turkey. It is also a world party," Erdoğan says. "In these last minutes as the chair of the AK Parti, I extend my hand to everyone in Turkey, whether they like me or not, for tolerance. I do it not only as myself, but also in the name of my party. I tell you that I understand you very well, and we want you to understand us."
12:27 - In the first half of Erdoğan’s speech, Ali Babacan, the deputy prime minister responsible for the economy, was the only Cabinet member mentioned beside Ahmet Davutoğlu. Does this indicate that Babacan will remain as the head of the economy in the next government? Of course, the finance minister, the Central Bank governor and whether or not interest rates will fall sharply in accordance with Erdoğan’s demand are also important, but all eyes are now on Babacan. This will become clear when Davutoğlu announces his Cabinet on Friday. (Click here to read all the notes from Murat Yetkin, who is in the congress hall.)
12:23 - Erdoğan defends the record of the ruling party, stressing how bad Turkey's economic situation was in 2002, when the first AKP government was formed. He stresses the decrease in inflation and interest rates over the past decade. "Today we have an economy that the whole world admires," he adds.
12:07 - "Nobody remembers the names of those who resigned after they received telephone calls from beyond the ocean," Erdoğan said, referring to former state officials who were allegedly forced to resign after instructions coming from the United States. "I'm praying God to let us be remembered as good people," Erdoğan says. (Click here to read the rest of this story on Erdoğan's speech)
12:04 - With the air-conditioning at the Ankara Arena, filled with thousands of participants, failing to defeat the August sun, Emine Erdoğan used her fan to try to cool down herself and the elected-president Erdoğan. (Click here to read more impressions from the congress hall)
11:56 - "Only the form is changing today, not the substance," Erdoğan says.
11:53 - Erdoğan's speech is briefly interrupted by the chanting of delegates from the Central Anatolian province of Konya. "Konya is proud of you," they chanted and Erdoğan responded, "We're proud of you." Konya is the hometown of Davutoğlu, who is running as the sole candidate for the party chair.
11:48 - "You made history," Erdoğan told the crowd, thanking the party delegates for their efforts in his election as president.
11:42 - After welcoming the crowd, Erdoğan said: "I particularly greet our sisters. This movement has become so strong thanks to our sisters. I present my gratitude to our sisters, the female members of our party." Erdoğan then thanked the young members of the party.
11:36 - Erdoğan takes the stage for his speech.
11:15 - A biographical film on Erdoğan is being displayed on the giant screen in the congress hall.
11:13 - Following the national anthem, the congress agenda is being read out.
10:35 - AKP Deputy Chair Süleyman Soylu, who is in charge of party branches, is the first official to speak on the rostrum. Erdoğan and Davutoğlu are sitting next to each other. (Click here to read more about Soylu's speech)
10:30 - The congress has formally been launched.
10:09 - President-elect Erdoğan addresses the crowd in front of the hall. “This is only a change of names, not a farewell. This is a beginning,” he says, announcing the new government will be formed Aug. 29, a day after he takes the presidency over from Abdullah Gül. (Click here to read the story about Erdoğan’s speech)
10:04 - “Turkey’s pulse is here in this hall now. In one sense, Turkey is now electing a new prime minister,” Hüseyin Çelik, the AKP’s spokesman, said on CNNTürk television.
9:38 - Foreign Minister Davutoğlu arrives in the hall.
9:16 – The party chair, not leadership, is changing hands, according to Hürriyet Daily News editor-in-chief Murat Yetkin, who is in the congress hall. (Click here to read his first impressions)
8:00 - Ankara’s largest sports hall is already filled by thousands of AKP supporters. The motto of the convention is "Together, New Turkey." (Click here to read the story about congress preparations and the background)