Erdoğan sets AKP on course for ‘second era’ from Feb 10

Erdoğan sets AKP on course for ‘second era’ from Feb 10

It would not be right to call the hand over of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) by Tayyip Erdoğan to Ahmet Davutoğlu, when Erdoğan headed for the presidency, as the end of an era; there has been no change in the structure, operation and concept of the AK Parti under Davutoğlu.

Actually, it would be more appropriate to say that the end of the first era of the party was the vote on the corruption claims against four former ministers on Jan. 20-21. With AK Parti votes, parliament decided that there was no need to send former ministers Muammer Güler, Zafer Çağlayan, Erdoğan Bayraktar and Egemen Bağış to court. It is true that the vote led to the AK Parti parliamentary group’s worst division since the 2003 vote on whether to take part in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but that could be said to be in numerical terms only; the circumstances are very different. Some 70 out of 312 of the AK Parti group at parliament will not be able to run as candidates in the June elections from the party’s list because of its “three term” rule. In that respect, a loss of 40-50 votes may not be regarded as a major blow to Erdoğan’s authority. But it shows that the expiry date of the current AK Parti group in parliament has now passed.

It can be better understood why Erdoğan needs a new design, a “second era,” for the AK Parti parliamentary group when considered together with his attempts to consolidate state powers under the presidency. 

There is one main difference in the characteristics of the first and the second AK Parti eras. In the first era, from 2000 onward, loyalty to the “cause” was most important. In the second era, it seems that loyalty to the “leader” will be most important - the leader being Erdoğan.

In the first era, it was the old guard - who had devoted their lives to the cause and suffered for it - who carried the AK Parti to power. Erdoğan thinks he paid his dues to this old guard by providing ministerial chairs and high positions in parliament over three consecutive terms in government under his leadership.

In the second era, Erdoğan thinks it is time for a “new generation” that has opened its eyes in politics thanks to Erdoğan, that thinks loyalty to the “cause” is identical to loyalty to Erdoğan, and - more importantly - that has gained priceless experience in public office throughout the past 12-13 years of AK Parti rule. Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan is a very good example of this new generation of politicians.

Meanwhile, the importance of the date Feb. 10, 2015 comes from a Jan. 5 ruling by the Supreme Election Board (YSK). The YSK ruling said that those public officials (from government employees to elected mayors) should leave their jobs by Feb. 10 if they want to be put forward as a candidate in the June parliamentary elections.

Therefore, if anyone wants to see which ranking public personality wants to run for the AK Parti - or any other party - to have a seat in the next parliament, (or perhaps the cabinet), should check out whether they have submitted their resignation to the YSK by 17:00 on Feb. 10. 

Of course, one wonders which ranking names will be on that list. Ankara’s political backstage is wondering whether the names of significant public servants - from Hakan Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT); to Yiğit Bulut, Erdoğan’s chief economic advisor; to Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş; to Hatem Ete, Davutoğlu’s advisor who plays an important role in the Kurdish dialogue process; to İbrahim Kalın, Erdoğan’s bright lieutenant on security and diplomacy; to Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç - will be on that list.

A source of mine also whispered to closely watch Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç, (who is actually due to retire in March, after the February deadline). But Kılıç is unlikely to be related to the next AK Parti list, as can be seen from the current situation.