Lobbying for 2012 starting today
There are two years ahead but talk has started on the topic of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ascent to the Çankaya Presidential Mansion and whether President Abdullah Gül would take the party leadership and prime ministry. There are speculations whether the Justice and Development Party (Ak Party) would survive without Erdoğan.
The biggest concern of the markets is that if there will be a dispute at the very top after 2014 and the Ak Party loses its majority, the coalition era will come back. The fear of political, social and economic instability is spreading.
‘Change the statute; don’t leave leadership’
It is not openly said yet but there is serious discomfort within the party regarding Erdoğan’s abandoning the party leadership and ascending to the “mansion,” which means he will quit active politics before the next elections.
I can summarize the situation in Ak Party as such: The probability that Erdoğan and other prominent leaders in the party will quit creates discomfort. The party staff believes there will be a way out and that the party statute that bans running for office more than three consecutive times will be overcome. This thought is definitely spreading: If this issue is not overcome and Erdoğan ascends to Çankaya, then it is only Abdullah Gül who can manage the party and nobody else.
The general tendency in the Ak Party is the wish that President Abdullah Gül will save the party by taking the party leadership and the prime ministry.
Even though there are some who say the party has now become an institution, that the trained young staff would carry on with the business, and that other names are also uttered; it is Gül’s name that is always at the forefront.
However, it has been reported that Gül has frequently told his entourage that he does not intend to enter the slippery platform of politics after his term is finished. His heart is not with active politics, it has been repeated, and that he wants to head a foundation.
One other aspect is that Erdoğan and Gül have not talked about this “top level switch” even once. If the subject is to be brought up, it has to come from Erdoğan, who is thought to be waiting for a good time.
One of the two other points debated is whether the powers of the president would be increased in the new constitution. The second one is whether Erdoğan would be willing to leave the party he has been closely managing for so many years entirely to Gül. Erdoğan might want to somehow interfere in party affairs from Çankaya.
The impression that Gül will succumb to pressures and, especially if Erdoğan is insistent, he will go back to active politics is increasing. His close aides also confirm this. They say, “He had more determined language in the past, but now pressures have started. The president is not talking as definitely as he used to.”
This issue is likely to be solved after a long talk or negotiation between Erdoğan and Gül. 2013 seems to be the key year for these talks.