Erdoğan tidying up home before key changes
All the eyes in the Turkish capital for a very long time were on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who had promised to make changes both at the Justice and Development Party (AKP) management and at the Cabinet after losing Istanbul and Ankara municipalities to the opposition party.
But before these changes, he obviously preferred to pick the dissidents out of the party as the AKP has referred former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, former AKP lawmakers Ayhan Sefer Üstün, Selçuk Özdağ and Abdullah Başçı to the disciplinary committee to be discharged from the party. The purge has included former heads of AKP’s Ankara and Istanbul chairmen Nedim Yamalı and Selim Temurci.
In a speech he delivered in Konya, Davutoğlu’s hometown, Erdoğan signaled the move as he reiterated that the AKP can no longer walk with members who have lost the spirit of the AKP’s political cause.
According to AKP officials, discharging Davutoğlu has become necessary because of his continued status as the member of the AKP could bring damage to the integrity of the party and lead to more defections. The officials underline that they have long awaited Davutoğlu’s resignation from the AKP just like Ali Babacan did when he made a decision to split ways with Erdoğan.
Davutoğlu and his friends are expected to precipitate a process of forming a new political party after being expulsed from the AKP and the timing is believed to be either October or November. In any case, Davutoğlu’s team is expected to take an action before Babacan and Abdullah Gül who are planning to announce the new party before the end of this year.
It seems Erdoğan’s much-anticipated touches to the AKP management and perhaps to cabinet will follow after the completion of disciplinary actions against Davutoğlu and other dissidents. ın the meantime, Erdoğan has also instructed his current management to launch a new training campaign for the AKP members to revisit the basic lines of the AKP cause and therefore renew their commitments to the founding principles of the party.
Erdoğan, as the ultimate leader of the AKP, has no tolerance any dissident move that would depict this movement as losing impact and weakening. The party is still strong and will be stronger after these dissidents will be discharged, according to Erdoğan.
The action on Davutoğlu and other dissidents, the dismissal of the mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin, strong signals that Turkey can conduct a new military operation inside Syria despite the opposition of the United States are among recent moves taken by Erdoğan to prove that his government is still strong and able.
That’s why any change at the AKP or at the Cabinet will be a limited one, according to many in Ankara. Heavyweights of the government like Economy Minister Berat Albayrak, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu would keep their jobs while a few others would be substituted by fresh names. This could happen after the Parliament starts to work as the new ministers need to take their oaths at the General Assembly.
In the meantime, amendments on the current executive-presidential system would also be announced as Erdoğan said Vice President Fuat Oktay concluded a month-long study on the system and submitted a report to him. Erdoğan will be the one who would explain these changes when they are completely done.
Erdoğan’s aim is to keep all these aforementioned changes as low-profile in order not to be pictured as losing power. But even the need to tidy up the home shows that somethings are not going on track.