Erdoğan starts reshaping politics from his party

Erdoğan starts reshaping politics from his party

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is preparing to start reshaping the political scene from his own Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) after being elected as the country’s 12th president in August.

The latest indications in Ankara show that the emergency congress on Aug. 27 will be a stage for a conceptual shift in the administrative layers of the Party, where the Party’s veterans will be replaced by a younger generation who will be more loyal to Erdoğan himself and the “cause.”

Yalçın Akdoğan wrote on his Twitter account on Aug. 13 that it was necessary to “vaccinate” the “mission” of the AK Party to the “youth” and those who had contributed to the mission in the earlier stages, including “founding the party” should not object that.

Those key words seem to be references to incumbent President Abdullah Gül’s words on Aug. 11 that it was natural for him to return to the party that he was a founder of when his term was over. Gül made that statement as Erdoğan had convened the AK Party’s decision making body to announce a date for the emergency congress to elect the new chairman to succeed him.

Erdoğan’s plan was to pick the chairman on Aug. 27, take the office from Gül on Aug. 28 and immediately give the position to the newly elected chairman to form the new Cabinet and become the new prime minister with the new president. And Gül’s move was indirectly asking him if he could have the Congress after Aug. 28, so that he could be a member of the Party, be a candidate in the congress with the chance of being elected chairman and perhaps prime minister afterward.

There are reports that Gül’s statement had immediate echoes in the Party meeting and some members of the old guard, including Bülent Arınç and Beşir Atalay, deputy prime ministers, raised concerns about the way the “rookies” treat veterans like Gül. Those members are among some 70 MPs who cannot be a candidate to be reelected from the AK Parti list in the next parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2015, because of a three-term rule.

When asked during one of Gül’s farewell receptions on the evening of Aug. 12 at the Presidential Palace, to be Erdoğan’s new place soon, he said Gül would be welcomed to the Party, but after the congress; an indirect and polite way of saying “No, not now.”

Will Gül try to join the Party again after the congress, will he be able to urge them for another before the parliamentary elections and could he be elected chairman if that congress takes place, or will he simply set up a new party together with those to be off of Erdoğan’s new list?

There are only speculative answers to those questions for the time being. But Erdoğan’s move to start reshaping Turkish politics from his own party seems to be a fact.