PM Erdoğan pitches his roadmap to presidency

PM Erdoğan pitches his roadmap to presidency

Nuray Babacan / Turan Yılmaz ANKARA
PM Erdoğan pitches his roadmap to presidency

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan leads his party’s Central Decision and Executive Council (MKYK) meeting in this file photo from April 28, 2014.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has delivered clear signals that its leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will run in Turkey’s first ever direct election for president in August.

A decision made in a five-hour long meeting of the AKP’s highest decision-making body, the Central Decision and Executive Council (MKYK), on May 2 is considered to be the clearest of these signals, with the party ultimately opting to maintain its three-term limit for its deputies.

The decision put an end to speculation that the party would change its rules to enable Erdoğan to stay on as prime minister for a fourth term. In line with the clarification, a caretaker prime minister will head the government for 10 months between presidential elections and the June 2015 parliamentary elections.

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said that Erdoğan’s probability of running for the presidency was “stronger now.”

Atalay insisted that President Abdullah Gül should not depart from the “AKP’s mission” after the upcoming process, signaling he might return to politics.

“For us, seats don’t matter. Rather, what matters is this movement’s good progress. I’m sure everybody will do their part,” he told Kanal 7.

If elected president, Erdoğan is expected to perform in the presidential Çankaya Palace as a “de facto executive president” during the 10 months between the presidential and parliamentary elections, rather than acting in line with the symbolic role defined in the current Constitution.

New role

If such a performance does not lead to procedural and functional problems, Erdoğan is planning to continue in such a role. However, in the opposite case, Gül will become the leader of the AKP after being elected as a member of Parliament in the June 2015 elections and will perform as “a more powerful prime minister.”

The AKP’s annual congress will be held within 45 days after the August presidential elections, with the names of former Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and AKP Deputy Chair Mehmet Ali Şahin being cited as likely candidates to run to become the party’s leader.

AKP deputies will gather at a two day camp-like meeting in Afyon on May 9, after which a larger “consultation meeting” will be held with the participation of provincial chairs, mayor and deputies on May 16.

Erdoğan and Gül are expected to hold their final consultations at the end of May.