Turkish politics enters critical week to designate next PM, ministers
Serkan DEMİRTAŞ ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Ankara politics is heavily focused on the composition of the next government, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (above) regarded as the strongest candidate to succeed President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AA PhotoThe coming 10 days will mark an important milestone in Turkish politics with a complete overhaul of the country’s executive cadres including a new prime minister and ministers under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidency. Ankara politics is heavily focused on the composition of the next government, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu regarded as the strongest candidate to succeed President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) will hold its Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Aug. 21 to designate the chairman, just days before its extraordinary congress on Aug. 27, during which this designated figure will be officially elected as Erdoğan’s successor. Erdoğan will take office on Aug. 28 and is likely to give a mandate for the formation of the next government on Aug. 29.
As stated by Yalçın Akdoğan, Erdoğan’s closest advisor, the government to be formed following the presidential handover will not be a temporary one. “The designated figure will not be a temporary prime minister. Erdoğan is an experienced politician; he won’t take a step that would bring about a failure in the next parliamentary elections. We’ll go to polls as the same movement with the same cadres and the same spirit,” Akdoğan stressed in an interview with daily Akşam on Aug. 17. “Once a name is designated as the chairman, we will all stand behind him.”
Akdoğan’s words indicate that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) sees the handover in the party leadership as a new beginning in reaching its objectives. “We’ll live our golden years between 2015 and 2019,” he added.
The AKP government’s new beginning under Davutoğlu’s leadership will surely have challenges, but Erdoğan is planning to overcome these by keeping the party intact and unaffected by his departure. A strong government with figures that will boost the mobilization of the party grassroots and, on the other hand, not giving any sign of weakness is crucial.
The injection of fresh names in the government is highly likely, with Yalçın Akdoğan set to enter the Cabinet as deputy prime minister and the right hand man of Davutoğlu., AKP Deputy Head Mustafa Şentop could enter the Cabinet as justice minister, replacing Bekir Bozdağ in order to intensify the government’s fight to clear the judiciary of pro-Gülen prosecutors and judges. The fight against the “parallel state” will continue to be one of the priorities of the next government.
Current EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu may be appointed as the foreign minister, but he has two main competitors for the same position. One of them is İbrahim Kalın, Erdoğan’s foreign policy advisor. Kalın will either enter Cabinet or continue to serve Erdoğan in the presidency. Another name is Hakan Fidan, the chief of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). Fidan and Davutoğlu have long been in intense and well-functioning cooperation over a number of foreign policy issues, but sources in Ankara rule out Fidan’s entry to active politics due to a number of continuing preoccupations.
Sports and Youth Minister Çağatay Kılıç, 38, could be appointed as the new EU minister in the event of Çavuşoğlu’s nomination as foreign minister.
One of the most important decisions to be taken by the next government will be whether the ministers who won’t be able to run for Parliament next year - due to the AKP’s internal three-term rule - will keep their seats in the Cabinet. Among these names are deputy prime ministers Bülent Arınç, Beşir Atalay and Ali Babacan, Culture Minister Ömer Çelik, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, Labor Minister Faruk Çelik, Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker. However, due to the sensitivity of some of these ministers’ jobs, Davutoğlu is expected to make a separate evaluation for each of them.
In this framework, Beşir Atalay, who is seen as the master chief of the ongoing Kurdish peace process along with Culture Minister Çelik, will keep his position. But in the event of his departure, Deputy AKP Head Mahir Ünal could be moved into the Cabinet to deal with the Kurdish issue.
Likewise, Ali Babacan, the deputy prime minister responsible for the economy, who is seen as one of the most successful ministers since 2002, may continue to serve in the Cabinet. However, there is also talk that he could be replaced by Numan Kurtulmuş, who joined the AKP in 2012.
Gül’s future steps
One of remaining issues to be set in Ankara politics will be the next steps of outgoing President Abdullah Gül, whose return to the AKP as chairman has been blocked by Erdoğan. Gül will still have hope of becoming prime minister if Erdoğan ends up designating a figure with the three-term limit problem. However, as Akdoğan put it bluntly, the elected chairman of the AKP will not be a temporary one, so Gül’s return to the party will not be easy. As suggested by many in Ankara, the only chance for Gül to return as party leader is a potential failure of the next chairman in the 2015 parliamentary elections. There are no signs of him forming a new party under the current conditions.