Turkish President Gül doesn’t rule out running in August vote

Turkish President Gül doesn’t rule out running in August vote

Turkish President Gül doesn’t rule out running in August vote

President Gül greets locals during a visit to the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, May 2. AA Photo

While refraining from openly saying whether he will run for his current post, incumbent President Abdullah Gül has given the green light to such a possibility, speaking a day after a lengthy meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“When the prime minister and I are the issue, we said that we would make a decision among ourselves with regard to which of us will be candidate. No doubt, there will also be other candidates,” Gül told reporters during a visit to the Black Sea province of Zonguldak on May 2.

“I guess the prime minister needs to hold further consultation, as he is in fact holding some consultations,” he added.

Gül’s remarks came in response to a question concerning the content from his latest meeting with the prime minister and as to whether questions over presidential candidacy were resolved at that meeting. As of May 1, Gül hosted Erdoğan for a two-hour-long dinner. Although this was a regular weekly meeting, its format and length were different than usual, leading to reports that the two comrades may have finalized their consultations with regard to naming the ruling party’s candidate for the August presidential election. The election will be the first time that Turks elect their president through direct voting.

Earlier on May 1, Erdoğan had attended a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Central Executive Board (MYK), which lasted almost two-and-a-half hours. On the day when Gül delivered the remarks above, Erdoğan was chairing a meeting of his ruling party’s highest decision-making body, the Central Decision and Executive Council (MKYK), the focus of which was the upcoming presidential election.

In early April, Gül stated that answers to questions regarding the presidential elections would become clear by the beginning of May.

“The rules of elections are certain and all fundamental elements of democracy are valid in our country. The calendar will proceed as you know and eventually, candidates will step forward, the people will decide on whoever they wish. Any political risk, tension or an unexpected incident should be expected because of this,” Gül added, while calling on every one to be patient while passing through these required processes regarding the elections.

Later in the day, in Ankara, speaking to reporters following the Friday prayer and ahead of the MKYK meeting, Erdoğan was asked whether Gül’s remarks on his “need to hold consultation,” could be interpreted as a reflection of the president’s uneasiness with these consultations.

“No such thing has ever happened between the two of us and no such thing is the case in regard to our understanding of consultation since the day when we founded our party together,” Erdoğan said.

“We discuss everything and then make the related decision as the bodies of authority,” he added, while, emphasizing that not only party officials, but also comrades who have struggled for the same cause for years would play in considering the decision.

In late April, Gül appeared to rule out a position swap with Erdoğan, having thrown open the question of who might succeed Erdoğan if he runs for president in the August election.

The president has up until now been chosen by Parliament and played a largely ceremonial role, but August’s election will be the first direct vote for the post. Erdoğan has said that will give the presidency more authority, and has vowed to exercise its full powers if elected.

Gül co-founded the ruling AKP with Erdoğan and has been seen as a potential future prime minister should Erdoğan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, become the head of state.

A more conciliatory figure than the prime minister, Gül has been seen as a check on Erdoğan’s authoritarian impulses.