The next Turkish PM if Erdoğan is elected president

The next Turkish PM if Erdoğan is elected president

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is pretty sure that he is going to be elected Turkey’s 12th president in the first round of voting on Aug. 10.

There are reports that his speechwriters have started working on another victory address to supporters of his Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) from the balcony of its headquarters in Ankara – another “balcony speech” by Erdoğan.

Since the AK Parti headquarters consider the Aug. 10 voting simply as a formality they have to go through, they have been working on future government scenarios post-Erdoğan. The key question in that debate is the next prime minister to succeed Erdoğan, if the latter ascends to the presidential palace on top of Çankaya Hill in Ankara.

Political observers in Ankara seem to be dropping the name of incumbent President Abdullah Gül following a three-month debate, something that made it clear that Erdoğan does not want a strong prime minister to challenge the president’s authority, but a Cabinet-coordinating prime minister which has not been seen in the Turkish system so far. Therefore, the next president is likely to be someone who is happy to accept that role.

There are a number of candidates for that. Here are the names of those AK Parti figures whose names are being tipped behind the scenes:

- BÜLENT ARINÇ: Deputy Prime Minister Arınç is one of the three big guns of the party together with Erdoğan and Gül. He would be willing to keep the post until the general elections in 2015 as a veteran of Islamic-conservative politics for nearly 40 years. Erdoğan, however, may think that what he needs is a name more loyal to him, rather than the common cause.

- AHMET DAVUTOĞLU: Davutoğlu as the architect of Erdoğan’s risk-taking foreign policy is frequently regarded in the party as the “hoca,” the master teacher. Speaking a number of languages and with theoretical depth, especially on the Islamic world, Davutoğlu has proven his capability to address masses in political rallies, besides lecturing in halls. Yet Erdoğan might need Davutoğlu (also with a strong personal political agenda) as the foreign policy chief for some time more.

- BİNALİ YILDIRIM: The former transportation and communications minister is the favorite of business circles who are sure that he is 100 percent loyal to Erdoğan himself with no personal political ambitions; that means he could be a good bridge between the business world and Erdoğan. Erdoğan, on the other hand, might bring Yıldırım to Çankaya Palace as a chief adviser or a secretary-general in order to act as actual prime minister there.

- MEHMET ALİ ŞAHİN: Having served before as the justice minister, deputy prime minister and parliamentary speaker, Şahin is now deputy chairman of the AK Parti in charge of the political and legal department; that means he is the number two in the party after Erdoğan. Şahin has paid special attention to ensure that he has not been in front of the cameras and exposed to the public for some time, but he is among the masterminds of Erdoğan’s strategy, which will succeed if he is elected on the first round. Şahin is one of the strong candidates to lead the government and the party after Erdoğan.

That scenarios might fail if Erdoğan wins in the first round and decides to go for an early parliamentary election in October or November of 2014 instead of June 2015, in order to take the advantage of his high vote rate. Then we will have another Turkey regardless, like we are going to have if Erdoğan fails to get elected on Aug. 10.