Rumors swirl as search for new Turkish PM heats up

Rumors swirl as search for new Turkish PM heats up

Rumors swirl as search for new Turkish PM heats up

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With only two weeks left until the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) extraordinary congress, the party’s search for a new prime minister has heated up, as a senior official suggesting that the prospective new name will be announced by outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu next week. 

“The candidate for the new chairman will be announced next week. It’s up to the prime minister whether he will announce the new chairman or whether he will leave it to his team,” AKP Deputy Chair Bülent Turan told reporters on May 9. 

The AKP will hold its extraordinary convention on May 22 to elect the successor of current leader Davutoğlu and the third party chairman, after the prime minister announced his decision to step down due to unsolvable differences with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Echoing senior government members who disagreed with presidential aide Aydın Ünal, who had predicted that the next prime minister would be “low-profile,” Turan said “no AK Party member is low-profile.”

Stating that Erdoğan’s influence over the AKP is “certain and natural” as the founding leader of the party, Turan said, adding that there is “nothing wrong with this.” 

“Should we impose all our lawmakers and members of the party not to be influenced by Erdoğan?” he said.
Turan also vowed that unlike other political parties, the AKP’s upcoming convention would be “smooth and peaceful.” 

“One of the priorities of the AK Party will be the change of the political system. We will work to get rid of the current dual executive and to create more stable governance. The AK Party delegates will elect the person who will bring about the presidential system to Turkey,” he added. 

Two potential candidates for the prime ministry are Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, both of whom are very close to President Erdoğan. 

It is believed that only one candidate will be running for the AKP chairmanship at the May 22 convention, as was the case in previous party conventions. In addition to electing a new chairman, the convention will also renew all top decision-making bodies of the party, including its disciplinary board, in order to reflect the AKP’s push to change the political system. 

Turan also praised a recent statement by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who said his party’s current de facto support for the government could turn into formal legal support “if necessitated by the anti-terrorism fight.”

“I evaluate this statement positively with regard to embracing our national policies, but we have no agenda of forming a coalition government,” he said. 

Since his statement, many have suggested that Bahçeli was indirectly floating the idea of forming a coalition government with the AKP and therefore supporting a prospective constitutional amendment for the adoption of a presidential system, so long as the government continues to fight against outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).