Erdoğan praises outgoing President Gül’s performance

Erdoğan praises outgoing President Gül’s performance

Erdoğan praises outgoing President Gül’s performance

Erdoğan and Gül are seen during a meeting at the Tarabya Palace in Istanbul, June 29. AA Photo

Presidential hopeful, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has fine-tuned his strict criticism of the performance of previous presidents, hailing his decades-long comrade, outgoing President Abdullah Gül, for his contributions to Turkey throughout his seven-year long tenure in office.

Delivering a speech on July 7 at the opening of the main election HQ in Ankara that will coordinate his election campaign across the country, Erdoğan stressed that it was “not possible to imagine a president who is not involved in politics or above politics.”

“The office of the presidency is not an office of ‘showcase.’ The office of the presidency is the highest point in politics. There may be those who don’t understand or know about this. It is like this across the whole world,” he said, repeating his ambition to be a powerful and proactive president, despite the fact that the position is defined as a largely ceremonial post in the Constitution.

“It has also been like this in our country up to now, but some [presidents], but of course it is not possible for me to include Mr. Gül among these, because we have fought a serious struggle together. You know how Turkey has progressed throughout his seven-year-long presidency,” Erdoğan said.

“Likewise, the point where we took control of the country and to the point to which we have brought it in 12 years is obvious,” he added, referring to his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) term in office since it was first elected to power in 2002.

“All of the steps we have taken in education, health, justice, security, transportation, energy and the economy are obvious. I will not go into the details now, we will be speaking about all of these details when we announce our Vision Document,” Erdoğan said, referring to a document that his campaign is planning to announce on July 11.

The prime minister, who is often criticized for seeking “one-man rule,” was careful to emphasize that the document had been drafted by “a collective reason.” He said it would detail both what a president directly elected by the people for the first time should do, as well as “how” he should do it.

Erdoğan and his AKP have long pushed for a constitutional amendment that will either introduce a presidential system or a partisan-president system, in which the president-elect does not have to sever his party affiliation. However, all efforts have so far failed due to the opposition’s refusal to cooperate on such an amendment.

Kicking off his presidential campaign for the two-round election, which will be held on Aug. 10 and Aug. 24, Erdoğan promised to transform the presidency into a more powerful position if he wins. He declared his candidacy on July 1 to become the country’s first democratically elected president and has focused his efforts on sweeping to an outright victory in the first round of the polls.     

Erdoğan is running against Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş.