Davutoğlu sole candidate for AKP leadership at congress, Erdoğan pulls strings

Davutoğlu sole candidate for AKP leadership at congress, Erdoğan pulls strings

Nuray Babacan / Turan Yılmaz - ANKARA
Davutoğlu sole candidate for AKP leadership at congress, Erdoğan pulls strings Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the current leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), will emerge as the sole candidate for leadership at its Sept. 12 convention, with names running for the AKP’s highest decision-making body reflecting the clout of its founding leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Although the final touches have been put on most of the nominee list for the party’s Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), with Davutoğlu and Erdoğan having eventually eliminated their differences, the latter is expected to keep an eye on things right up until the congress is scheduled to begin at 10.00 a.m.
The congress comes just 49 days before the snap election due on Nov. 1, after parties failed to form a coalition after the June 7 general election. 

Erdoğan’s inner circle will follow the delivery of the nominee list to the bureau of the congress, tasked with conducting procedures, in a move displaying his keenness to ensure that his desired names are elected to the MKYK of the 14-year-old party.

‘15 minutes risk surprise list’

“This time, the issue is being handled painstakingly. From the moment when the list is sent to the printing house, it will be closely followed. Even the 15 minutes immediately after the bureau announces that lists have been submitted are very important. If some names that Erdoğan particularly wants on the list are omitted, or some names that he doesn’t want to see on the list are added at the last minute, then we should be prepared for a surprise ‘counter-list,’” sources close to the presidential palace said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The have been rumors that Davutoğlu wanted to appoint former deputy prime ministers Bülent Arınç and Ali Babacan to the MKYK, but this was blocked by Erdoğan’s objection. Beşir Atalay may likewise also not be nominated, while Erdoğan has reportedly insisted on the nomination of Binali Yıldırım and Nurettin Canikli, who are two names omitted from the preliminary first draft list prepared by Davutoğlu.

“Our Prime Minister Davutoğlu is our sole candidate at the congress and we have one list,” said Atalay, speaking to journalists on Sept. 11 about the rumored candidacy of Yıldırım for the party leadership.  

Davutoğlu had invited former President Abdullah Gül to the congress, but Gül will not be present, Atalay added. 

Along with Yıldırım and Canikli, leading figures who are known to be close to Erdoğan such as Bekir Bozdağ, Ömer Çelik, Yalçın Akdoğan, Efkan Ala, Faruk Çelik, Mehmet Ali Şahin, Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Mehdi Eker, Mücahit Arslan, Süleyman Soylu, Nihat Zeybekci, Mustafa Şentop, Bülent Gedikli and Mustafa Ataş, are highly likely to be nominated on the MKYK list.

AKP Istanbul deputy Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of Erdoğan, is also cited as a nominee on the list, as well as former Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek are likely to remain on the body, though reports cited a disagreement between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan concerning the party’s youth branch chief, Istanbul deputy Abdürrahim Boynukalın, who delivered a speech earlier this week in front of the attacked Hürriyet daily headquarters.

In recent days the AKP has been shaken by news that Binali Yıldırım, one of Erdoğan’s closest aides, was testing the waters for a leadership challenge to Davutoğlu.

Reports said former Transport Minister Yıldırım has contacted scores of AKP delegates over his potential return to the party as leader, while his team has also intensified its efforts to promote him. In private talks with friends, Yıldırım was said to be mulling whether to put himself forward as a potential candidate.

Davutoğlu was elected as the AKP leader at an extraordinary convention in late August 2014 to replace Erdoğan, who was elected as Turkey’s president earlier in the same month. There has since been wide speculation about disagreements between the two men on a number of issues.

Some 40,000 people will attend the congress in Ankara on Sept. 12, with 12,000 of them finding room inside the venue. Some 1,445 delegates are able to vote in the AKP congress, while over 1,000 buses will carry AKP executives and supporters to the event. 

The AKP has also invited 11 rival parties, including the three other parties at parliament, to the congress. Atalay promised “surprise slogans,” as well as the announcement of the musical tracks for the upcoming election at the event.