Erdoğan supports Gül’s possible return to the party

Erdoğan supports Gül’s possible return to the party

Nuray Babacan - Turan Yılmaz ANKARA
Erdoğan supports Gül’s possible return to the party

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seen as he distributes roses to women at the the Turkish Metal Workers’ Union’s 20th Grand Convention of Women Laborers in Ankara on March 6. AA Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said it would be “felicitous and propitious” if former President Abdullah Gül declares his candidacy to run in the upcoming general elections scheduled for June 7, as sources said the two founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would soon meet to discuss the issue.

“I think such a decision by him would be felicitous and propitious,” Erdoğan said in Ankara on March 6, responding to a reporter’s question about Gül’s probable candidacy.

“The issue of the candidacy is at his own discretion,” Erdoğan said, adding that he had spoken with Gül last week about his father’s illness, wishing him a speedy recovery.

Gül had earlier hinted that he would make a comeback to the political “movement that he had helped launch.”

Bülent Arınç, the deputy prime minister who is also among the AKP’s founders, said Erdoğan’s remarks were a “light of hope.”

Speaking in a televised interview on private broadcaster NTV, Arınç said it would be wise to invite Gül back to the party, but he does “not think we are at such a point yet.” He also said he would like to see Gül return in the role of parliamentary speaker.

Sources told Hürriyet that a number of senior members of the AKP had asked Erdoğan during a recent meeting to convince Gül return to the party, to which Erdoğan responded neither negatively nor positively.

Both men fixed a meeting for the upcoming days in a recent phone call, sources said, adding that Gül would expect an open invitation from Davutoğlu before taking action.

Rumors of Gül’s return to the AKP ahead of the June elections were rejected most recently in February by AKP spokesperson Beşir Atalay.

It is “too early” for former President Gül to be nominated as a parliamentary candidate in the June elections, Davutoğlu had also said in February.

“I met with him [Gül] last week. Our president is also talking with him, but there has not been such a request. It is too early for the issue to be discussed right now. There has not been any request or suggestion about it,” he said at the time.

The AKP members who want Gül back in the party say he could act as a “wise person” and “build links between the past and the future of the party.”

He could also contribute to the ongoing talks to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue and mediate in any split of opinions between the president and the prime minister.

AKP sources close to Gül suggested that the former president would not seek a seat in the cabinet after the elections and he would not run to take over the leadership of the party in a congress.

“If things go badly in the party, Gül could appear as an alternative and he may get a position, but this is a very long-term look. It is not an issue of today,” one source said.

The AKP was founded in 2001 by members of a number of existing conservative parties, winning the 2002 elections. Gül became the prime minister after the landslide victory, as Erdoğan was still banned from taking the seat. However, after the government abolished the ban in March 2003, Erdoğan became the prime minister, served by Gül as foreign minister and deputy prime minister until 2007, before the latter became president.

Gül left the post once again to Erdoğan after the latter became Turkey’s first president to be elected in a public vote in August 2014. 

While he was still in office in April last year, Gül said a “Vladimir Putin–Dmitry Medvedev formula,” involving the shifting of seats between the prime minister and the president, “would not be an implementation that suits democracy.”