Plot thickens as Erdoğan consults party grassroots for next AKP leader and prime minister
Erdogan waves hand to supporters as he celebrates his election victory in front of the party headquarters in Ankara August 10, 2014. REUTERS PhotoPresident-elect, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned to grassroots consultation and inter-party surveys in the search for his successor as party leader and prime minister, as the plot thickens in a possible power struggle between Erdoğan and outgoing President Abdullah Gül.
In an Aug. 11 meeting of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) highest decision-making body, the Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), Erdoğan asked party members their preferences for both party chairman and prime minister. All members submitted the name of a single nominee in a closed envelope.
As in the MKYK meeting, Erdoğan is likely to ask attendants of an expanded meeting of the AKP’s provincial chairs on Aug. 14 for their preferences, while also delivering the questionnaire to lawmakers this week.
Meanwhile, a number of senior AKP members have ruled out possible vitiating factors in Gül’s return to the party, arguing that his return will enrich the party.
“Abdullah Bey will of course come to our party. He will enrich and strengthen our party. Besides, Abdullah Bey has a place among majority of the society, in the grassroots of our party and in our parliamentary group as well as in hearts of all of us. What could be more natural than his return?” Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said in a live interview with TRT Haber news station broadcast late on Aug. 11, hours after Gül announced his intention to return to the ruling AKP after ending his tenure as head of state at the end of this month.
“If Erdoğan is the party’s first name, then Gül is the second,” Atalay added, saying both names had performed a “splendid association” since the formation of the AKP.
Similar messages came from AKP Deputy Chair Salih Kapusuz, posting on his personal Twitter account late on Aug. 11.
“I believe that those who describe as ‘irresponsibility’ the statements of return by Abdullah Gül, who exerted serious efforts for the emergence of the AK Party movement, are evil-minded,” Kapusuz tweeted, inviting those who make such statements to “political politeness over the symbolic names of the movement.”
“Were some circles thinking that Gül would do politics in the [Republican People’s Party] CHP or [Nationalist Movement Party] MHP?” Kapusuz also asked, referring to the two largest opposition parties.
He also claimed that Gül could “never be a splinter,” but only a “conjunctive for the movement,”
Kapusuz’s remarks came after AKP deputy Şamil Tayyar, speaking in a televised interview on Aug. 11, criticized Gül’s statement of return, describing his words as “remarks that hold the mind captive and display ambition.”