Erdoğan’s new presidency move
It is a valid question to ask whether Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan would say that he was ready to “negotiate” the candidacy for presidency with incumbent Abdullah Gül, if Gül did not make it public that the time has come to talk about it.
Nevertheless, Erdoğan has said in answer to a question before leaving for Azerbaijan on April 4 that he agreed with Gül they have to work out a strategy for the presidential elections.
That was the answer Gül has been waiting for, for almost two years.
Especially after the March 30 local elections when Erdoğan managed to secure a 45 percent support for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti). Party officials have said Erdoğan’s way to the presidential palace on top of Çankaya hill in Ankara was cleared. Even after Gül’s remark during his visit to Kuwait that it was now time to talk about presidential elections in August and he didn’t think Erdoğan would announce a decision about that without talking to him first, there were statements from the AK Parti that Erdoğan could and would make that decision himself.
Now Erdoğan not only invalidated those statements, but also took another potential source of political tension off of the agenda.
As a talented speaker, Erdoğan knows well the difference between the words “talk” and “negotiate.” He knows that when Gül wanted to “talk” about the next president, Gül also meant the next prime minister as well, because if Erdoğan is elected president and if Gül would be happy to run the party and the cabinet, but with his own power and authority, not in the shadow of Erdoğan.
Erdoğan’s new move shows that he will not exclude, but on the contrary, include his long-time fellow Gül as an equal partner to decide on the party strategy for presidency.
And that is in spite of some visible difference of opinions on certain matters.
There are two recent examples of those differences. For example, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is primarily focused on the Kurdish issue, lit a green light of support for Erdoğan’s presidency in return for “visible steps” from the government for more rights, as in a recent statement from Pervin Buldan, an active MP for the BDP. It is no secret the BDP is looking for autonomy, at least for the municipal authorities. Gül, in response to a question on the issue said he was against autonomy, but for the extension of rights for all citizens in accordance with European Union standards.
The other example is the Turkish Constitutional Court ruling to end the government ban on Twitter. Gül praised the Court ruling because of lifting the ban. Erdoğan said April 4 the government has to implement the ruling, but he had no respect for this “un-national” ruling.
It is clear Erdoğan’s decision to make a joint move for Gül, whether he or Gül will be the candidate, as a result of political necessities. It is possible the files on corruption claims and his vow to finish off the Gülenists might be factors in his decision.
Anyway, this is an important move on road to the presidential elections and it might mean Gül’s candidacy for a second term of presidency might have gained weight.