Tough period for AK Party is starting
The clearest conclusion I drew from the prime minister’s weekend speech at Justice and Development Party (AK Party) congress was the indisputable stance about the presidential system and Erdoğan’s determination to ascend to the Çankaya presidential mansion. The “mansion process,” which has been talked of for a long time, has now started.
His three recent T.V. interviews and his latest speech have all given the message: “I’m ascending to the mansion,” and have even referred to the specific stages of the process.
The prime minister was very clear about his desire to ascend to Çankaya, but he was not as persistent and self-binding on the subject of the presidential system itself. He chose his words carefully. He was careful not to irritate opponents within his own party. He took a mild stance, and only said that the presidential system would bring stability.
On the other hand, he was much clearer when expressing that he himself would run in the presidential election. At least, that’s how I interpreted it.
The prime minister, in the first stage, will definitely have the new constitution written. Even if only one party remains, he will not leave the table. In the new constitution, depending on the conditions of the day, the powers of the president will be increased.
These developments will be adjusted according to the votes received in local elections in October next year. If the votes are over 50 percent then a more courageous stance will be adopted; if the votes are less then a different stance will be adopted accordingly.
Of course, the years in between until 2014 (the year of the next presidential election) are a long time for our country and circumstances may change - everything may be upside down. However, if everything goes smoothly then the prime minister’s “road ahead” is certain.
There has been so much “Çankaya talk” that even if the powers of the president are not increased, we can still say Erdoğan will go for the presidency. After saying so many farewells to the delegates in the congress, Erdoğan will not be able to come back. He cannot now say: “It didn’t happen. I cannot be a president without powers. I have withdrawn.”
However, in the event that Erdoğan ascends to the mansion, no matter how many powers he is equipped with, it would be extremely difficult for him to control the AK Party as he does now.
AK Party should prepare for years without Erdoğan
A brand new process started for the AK Party on Sunday. Those years “with Erdoğan” are now over. The prime minister will still be in our lives, he will again set the agenda and be in the headlines with his statements, he will again wave the AK Party flag, but there will be a significant difference…
Why? The position of the presidency is not quite how it is seen from outside. It has a very busy tempo, a very different agenda. A president cannot say: “I want to participate in the executive board meetings of my party.”
Whether Erdoğan ascends to the mansion with increased powers, or is content with his present-day powers, he will have to be distanced from his party to a certain extent. He will not be able to intervene if there emerges a provincial head who opposes party policies, or when the inter-party staff needs reorganization. Nor will he be able to decide on who will re-run for office and who will not. In other democratic countries, presidents never interfere with the daily affairs of their party and get lost in details.
Because of this, the AK Party should gradually start to prepare itself for those years ahead that will be “without Erdoğan.”