President Gül says his word is crucial for debate of presidential elections

President Gül says his word is crucial for debate of presidential elections

President Gül says his word is crucial for debate of presidential elections

'My opinion will be crucial about issues concerning myself,' Gül said. AA Photo

President Abdullah Gül has indirectly criticized formulas floating around about his position in the post-Erdoğan era, saying his word is crucial in the presidential elections because the issue individually concerns him.

Gül made this comment upon being questioned whether he would prefer being elected deputy of Bayburt province or an early election in order to take the seat at the Prime Ministry.

He would discuss the issue with “friends, primarily with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” and will decide accordingly, Gül said on April 8 speaking at a press conference with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Sure, my opinion, my word will be crucial about issues concerning myself,” Gül noted.
The issue of presidential elections is a hot topic at the moment, because the local elections have happened and there are only 4-5 month remaining until presidential polls, Gül said, citing his earlier remarks that the “time has come to speak about presidential elections.”

“We should be realistic,” he added.

Erdoğan: We’ll not let tension interfere

Addressing his deputies at Parliament, Erdoğan, meanwhile, said they would not provide any opportunity to those who want to foment tension prior to the presidential elections. Criticizing main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s call for a civilian president, in which the CHP leader referred to a non-partisan figure, Erdoğan said lawmakers could propose any name for the presidency.

With the completion of the local polls that secured 45.6 percent of the vote for the AKP, the party has already started to discuss the post-Erdoğan period for the AKP. “We would like to see Mr. Gül as the prime minister,” the deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Mehmet Ali Şahin, told CNNTürk on April 7. Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler confirmed the party’s Bayburt deputy could resign to allow Gül to be elected as a deputy and become prime minister as soon as Erdoğan is elected president.

In the event of Erdoğan’s election as president in August, some ruling party officials believe the government will be led by “an interim prime minister” for two or three months so the AKP could convene an extraordinary convention in autumn this year. The date set for the parliamentary elections is June 7, 2015, in which Gül would run for the Prime Ministry as the head of the AKP.

Çelik: Future of Presidency will be shaped after Erdoğan-Gül meeting

Not only one formula, but 10 could be found if the prime minister and the president agree on the Prime Ministry, said the deputy chair of the AKP, Hüseyin Çelik, daily Radikal reported yesterday. Only after the meeting between Gül and Erdoğan will the future of the presidency and the government be shaped, Çelik said.

According to AKP officials, the party has divided the upcoming process into four periods: “Erdoğan’s election as president; forming an interim government; convening the extraordinary AKP convention and parliamentary elections of 2015.”

Stressing the need to form an interim government, Şahin said Gül should first be elected to Parliament to become prime minister. “Therefore, I think one of current deputy prime ministers can become the prime minister [until the June 7, 2015 elections],” he said.

As the AKP hopes to change the administrative system into a presidential one by the general elections, party officials think the 2015 election campaign could be well-focused on constitutional amendments in favor of strengthening the presidential system in Turkey to avoid a clash of authority between the elected president and prime minister.

“This system can be a presidential system or a semi-presidential system. If these do not happen, a system allowing the president to be the head of a political party could also be considered. Turkey will come to this point as a necessity. Electing the president through popular vote will force us to do so,” Şahin said.

Timeline for the swap

A point of uncertainty in the potential Erdoğan-Gül swap is its timing. As stated by İşler, pursuing the Bayburt option would allow Gül to become the prime minister before the end of the year, most likely in fall. If the Bayburt deputy resigns in September, elections in the province to elect Gül should take place within 90 days.  

The other option is to let the interim government function until general elections so that Gül can comfortably be elected as the head of the AKP in the convention and lead the election campaign of the party.