Turkish PM Erdoğan sees no risk to AKP’s future after becoming president

Turkish PM Erdoğan sees no risk to AKP’s future after becoming president

Turkish PM Erdoğan sees no risk to AKP’s future after becoming president

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) is seen before a meeting with Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic in Ankara. AA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is not at risk of losing power or splitting if he is elected president, arguing that his party is different from all political parties of the past and present.

“We are neither the ANAP nor any other party. We are a sui generis party. When late President [Turgut] Özal was elected president, his party was already losing votes. In our case, however, our votes are on the increase. We have 46 percent of the votes currently. Every other person is voting for us,” Erdoğan reportedly told his lawmakers during an AKP camp over the weekend in remarks that seemed to solidify suggestions that he will run for president in August elections.

Özal, ANAP’s (Motherland Party) chair and a former prime minister, was elected as president in 1989 and left the party’s leadership to Yıldırım Akbulut, who was considered to be his “yes-man.” Under Akbulut’s leadership, ANAP lost its power and internal debates further weakened the party.

Some AKP lawmakers expressed concerns that the AKP could share ANAP’s fate with one deputy recalling Akbulut as a non-charismatic politician who did not have his own say during his prime ministry.

Erdoğan was reportedly angered by the lawmaker’s definition, saying: “A lawmaker from the AK Party can never talk about the country’s former prime minister in this way. Those who have served Turkey are valuable. And these kinds of assessments can be used against our successor as well.”  

Although the ANAP example was discussed at the camp, an overwhelming majority of AKP officials and lawmakers have expressed their support for Erdoğan’s bid for the presidency. Although the prime minister recalled that he had not yet decided on his nomination, he assured his party colleagues that he would be an active president in the event of his election.

“A president elected by the people cannot be like the previous ones. As the head of the executive, the president uses all his constitutional powers. If I am elected president, I will also use all of them. I won’t be a president of protocol,” he reportedly told his lawmakers. 

Recalling Article 104 of the Constitution that furnishes the president with significant powers, Erdoğan said the head of the nation elected by the people would be a very strong president. “We’ll be in support of whoever is elected president,” Erdoğan said.

Although the two-day camp was focused on the presidential elections slated for Aug. 10 and the post-Erdoğan era in the AKP, the prime minister did not give any clue as to who could replace him as the prime minister and chairman of the party.

The party will continue to take the pulse of the people over the presidency and the next prime minister until late May before concluding deliberations on key decisions. Erdoğan is likely to announce his decision on the presidential elections in June.