What will Gül do now?
The prevention of President Abdullah Gül’s return to politics is an important political indicator. Gül’s exclusion from politics is indicative of how the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has changed its stance from the inclusive, reformist, moderate and center-oriented policies it followed from its inception in 2002 until 2010 to more radical and ideological politics.
It is possible to see the difference of orientation between the EU-referenced, inclusive discourse that the AKP had between 2002 and 2010 and its tough and ideological language of these past years.
Gül, on the other hand, has been a representative of a moderate and inclusive politics at every level he has worked in since his debut in politics.
How was Gül excluded?
Actually, the first step to prevent Gül from re-entering politics was taken in October 2012. The article that stipulated that former presidents could not stand as a candidate was inserted into the Presidential Election Law passed by the government. The reason was not to prevent former presidents Ahmet Necdet Sezer or Süleyman Demirel from being president but, of course, to prevent Gül’s possible candidacy for a second term. Resentful statements were made by Çankaya about this bill, and the Constitutional Court later canceled it.
What was expected in 2014 was for Gül to be the general-secretary of the AKP and then the prime minister of Turkey. According to public polls, 80 percent of the party’s core supported him.
This was prevented by scheduling the party congress for Aug. 27. Gül could have been a candidate if the congress had been scheduled for just one day later! This way, the right of delegates to freely elect their new general-secretary was also prevented. I will write my further views on the new general-secretary and prime minister in another article.
Insolence to Gül
There are personal factors in Gül’s exclusion: A strong and independent person such as Gül was not wanted in the party apart from the leader. The party we are speaking of is a party that considers different voices and opinions within the party as amounting to “strife.”
The resentful approaches caused by radicalization and toughening made themselves felt in the “insolence” shown to Gül.
The president cannot work like the Constitutional Court because the legislative authority belongs to Parliament and the president does not have constitutional judiciary powers. Nevertheless, I would still have liked Mr. Gül to veto certain bills, such as the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) Law, which gave the government a firmer grip over the judiciary.
During his presidency, Gül corrected many bills through meetings, even though these were not made public. Çankaya’s lawmakers tried to make bills compatible with the law, not compatible with political ideology.
When polarization led to big tensions, Gül made inclusive and moderate statements. Judicial executives, political parties and other organizations contacted Gül on matters that they could not talk about with the government. He established a period of stability by leaving a door of the state open for different voices.
From now on, Gül will have no intervention in the policies of the party. He can’t become a "statesman who was a president" and intervene in the politics of the party from Istanbul. During this period, he is going to be active, but only as a statesman who gives advice on domestic and foreign policies.
The ruling party, on the other hand, will continue on its own path. The government will be without a factor like Gül, who symbolizes sobriety. The party will walk to the future with a “young, dynamic structure” composed of the people who Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls “heroes.”
I do have concerns, which I am going to write about when the time comes, but we are only at the very beginning. I hope it will be good for the country.