The doors of Çankaya
There appears to be a consensus among most political analysts that the March 30 polls not only elected mayors and local assembly members, it opened wide the doors of the Çankaya presidential office to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Some analysts consider the unexpectedly high local election success of the ruling party, add to that the cumulative Kurdish vote and conclude that Erdoğan now has a comfortable over-50-percent electoral support behind his possible candidacy for presidency.
Really? The 2011 electoral victory of the AKP was far bigger. The 2012 constitutional amendment referendum vote was over 58 percent. Why then were those electoral successes not considered “door-openers?” Why do analysts now believe a Kurdish-added electoral support might produce well over 50 percent of the electoral backing for Erdoğan and that it might indeed be interpreted that Erdoğan’s presidential aspirations received popular support?
In politics, two plus two cannot make four all the time. Depending on the conjectural, psychological and social conditions, it might make five, or three or something totally different. Would conservative-Islamist-nationalists vote, for example, to stay with the candidate of the ruling party if five months later we have a presidential vote with renewed separatist-terrorism related violence or with convincing claims, leaks or something showing the government and the separatist gang engaged in some deal threatening Turkey’s territorial integrity? Therefore, perhaps it is wiser to wait and see how things evolve before making shorthand comments or engage in fortune telling. Would anyone believe the Justice and Development Party (AKP) would receive this many votes in local polls? Yet, an espionage tape and overplayed corruption claims multiplied with the opposition failing to come up with any sort of substantial policies on the country’s major problems, sufficed with graft-talking, helped the ruling party resurrect strongly.
There are some others who support Erdoğan’s presidential aspirations in hopes of “promoting and getting rid of him.” That is indeed a perennial established practice in this country; promote and get rid of someone… Is Erdoğan the type of person who might be gotten rid of by sending him up? Those – in the ruling party and outside – who might have such aloof ideas are badly underestimating what constitutional powers Erdoğan might use if he is elevated to that high office. Forget Erdoğan, can anyone imagine what the Rabia-saluting Bilal and Sümeyye might do with the presidency? Will they only be “zeroing” shoe-boxes?
If Erdoğan decides to run for presidency and even if the entire opposition unites around someone else, it is very probable that Erdoğan will win. Will he indeed want to become president as he could not amend the Constitution to craft himself an absolute ruler type presidency? What if his handpicked premier feels strong enough one day to become an executive premier, starts bypassing the presidency? What will happen to Abdullah Gül, since most likely he would not accept binge a lame duck premier under a president Erdoğan? Or can Gül accept such a role?
It is no secret that Erdoğan and his wife badly want to replace the current “first couple” in the presidential palace. But will Erdoğan want that office at any cost? Before working out all succession-related questions one-by-one, Erdoğan will not take the issue to his family for a decision. And we all know that despite his macho-style, all of Erdoğan’s key decisions are being made by the family.