Erdoğan hails ‘new era’ as he rejoins ruling AKP
ANKARAThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) carries the heritage of a holy cause, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said as he regained his party membership with a signature at the party headquarters on May 2.
“Even if it felt like centuries, I am particularly excited that our 979-day-long separation, which is like a drop in the historical continuity, is at an end,” Erdoğan said in a ceremony in which he signed the membership form to rejoin the party on May 2.
His membership marked a first in Turkish political history since 1961 when the constitution barred presidents from retaining party membership in an effort to ensure impartiality.
Erdoğan’s membership became possible after a constitutional amendment, one article of which lifted the constitutional provision banning presidents from maintaining ties to political parties, was approved in an April 16 referendum.
“I am returning today to my party, my home, my passion and love; the party that I have founded and had to be separated as a constitutional necessity since I was elected as the president on Aug. 27, 2014,” Erdoğan said.
“When I was giving my farewell speech, I said that even though it is only 13 years old, the AKP is a party which is a carrier of the heritage of a holy march, a holy cause which started centuries ago,” he said.
“Surely this separation was only an official one. The distance between us was just a requirement of the legislation. Our hearts were always together, they have always been so,” he added.
The party is expected to undergo serious revisions at an extraordinary congress, with the party organization and cabinet expected to be experience an overhaul.
“We decided to hold our extraordinary congress on May 21. With new excitement, new hope and beginning, we will bring our president forward as the candidate for the leadership,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said at the ceremony, saluting Erdoğan’s membership.
Erdoğan is expected to be the only candidate at the congress.
AKP to focus on 2019 elections
In his speech, Erdoğan also hinted at the future road map of the AKP under his leadership, stating that the party would focus on parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019.
“From now on, I have to remind you that our workload will be heavier,” he said.
Before the 2019 campaigning, a revision within the party organization and cabinet is expected. This shuffle will mark the congress as well as the road map of the party in the 2019 election period.
“We have to give attention to this: service is important but it is not enough,” Erdoğan said, underlining that the party would focus on fieldwork in the future periods.
“The rich have their means, it is not necessary [to reach them]. We have to go to others,” he said.
“The ones who are walking with us are predominantly them,” he added.
The party has recently established a committee to assess the referendum results, which resulted in a loss in big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir.