President Gül, PM Erdoğan set to have a final meeting

President Gül, PM Erdoğan set to have a final meeting

President Gül, PM Erdoğan set to have a final meeting

PM Erdoğan will have a meeting with President Gül next week.

After a number of postponements, a final consultation between Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan concerning the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate in the country’s first ever direct election for president in August will eventually take place next week.

During the meeting, the two are likely to make a decision on the name who will serve as the “caretaker prime minister” and head of government for the 10 months between the presidential elections and the June 2015 parliamentary elections, in the event of Erdoğan’s candidacy and victory in Turkey’s first ever direct presidential elections.

In recent polls conducted by the AKP, a majority of respondents favored Gül serving as prime minister, in an implementation of a formula similar to a “Putin-Medvedev model,” under which Gül and Erdoğan would swap roles.

The support for Gül as prime minister has risen as he is considered a “realistic” name whose leadership will not lead to an internal crisis within the party, as the other names being cited as potential candidates all face opposition from different factions within the party. Recently, a considerable number of AKP executives reportedly appealed to Gül for leadership of the party, and Erdoğan is also reportedly aware of these appeals.

In such an event, Gül, who is not a member of the Parliament, will be elected to the AKP’s leadership during the party’s autumn congress this year and will thus lead the party in the electioneering ahead of the June 2015 vote. According to this scenario, during the 10 months between the August vote and the June 2015 vote, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan or former Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım could serve as the caretaker prime minister.

In the same polls conducted by the AKP, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is the second most favored name for the prime minister’s post, in the event of an Erdoğan presidency.

However, in such a case, Davutoğlu will not be a caretaker prime minister and will continue serving in the same office after the June 2015 elections. In this scenario, Gül’s name will therefore be out of calculations for the AKP’s future leadership structure.

On the other hand, many believe that the recent kidnapping of dozens of Turkish nationals by the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northern Iraq cast a shadow over prospects for Davutoğlu, as the grave incident exposed the government’s recent foreign policy failures.

Sources familiar with the issue cite the low-profile kept by Davutoğlu for a long time ahead of the ISIL crisis as sign of his willingness and readiness to serve as prime minister. The same sources also noted that Davutoğlu chose the Prime Ministry Office at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul to hold a recent television interview.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan is tightlipped not only in public statements but also while speaking with party executives on whether he will run in the August vote. Sources close to the prime minister recall that he likes to make significant statements on “Good Fridays,” so could make his presidential candidacy announcement on June 27. Other sources suggest that Erdoğan could wait until July 3, which is the final date for individuals to officially submit their candidacy.

In the event of his eventual candidacy, Erdoğan will be nominated with an appeal signed by all AKP deputies and this appeal will be made public by the party’s deputy parliamentary group chairs. Afterward, Erdoğan will hold a parliamentary group meeting, where his address will be both a farewell and a candidacy speech.