Turkey: Who will succeed Erdogan when he becomes president?

Turkey: Who will succeed Erdogan when he becomes president?

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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Turkey is going to the presidential poll today

Even his worst critic is pretty sure that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is going to be elected Turkey’s 12th president in the first round of voting on Aug. 10, without the need for a second round, by getting more than 50 percent of the votes.

Erdogan remains the most popular leader of Turkey.

With the issue of next president, for which elections are held on 10 August, is settled in favor of Erdogan, now question arises as to who will succeed him as premier minster to carry forwards his polices and image of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)

There are reports that Erdogan‘s speechwriters have started working on another victory address to supporters of his Justice and Development Party from the balcony of its headquarters in Ankara

Since the AK Party headquarters consider the Aug. 10 voting simply as a formality they have to go through, they have been working on future government scenarios post-Erdoğan. The key question in that debate is the next prime minister to succeed Erdoğan, if the latter ascends to the presidential palace on top of Çankaya Hill in Ankara.

Clearly, Turkey is going to follow the Russian model of swapping the powers between Erdogan and incumbent President Abdullah Gül who has already hinted to retire from public life. Political commentators in Turkey and West seem to be dropping the name of Abdullah Gül following a three-month debate, something that made it clear that Erdoğan also does not want a strong prime minister to challenge the president’s authority, but a Cabinet-coordinating prime minister as it happens in many democracies but which has not been seen in the Turkish system so far.

Gül’s presidency is ending with this election and there is a hope among moderates within the AKP, and even some liberals, that he can come back to the party and restore it on the more reconciliatory and pro-EU lines the AKP followed in its initial years. But, upon repeated insults by EU bosses, Erdoğan, apparently, has been taking all measures possible to block this scenario.

Therefore, the next president is likely to be someone who is happy to accept that next to president’s role. What this also means is Erdoğan does not wish to leave any chance for Abdullah Gül, the man who founded the AKP with him some 13 years ago, in the political scene.

There are a number of candidates who actively support AKP, Erdogan and his Islamist program for Turks. Here are the names of those AK Party figures whose names are being tipped behind the scenes: The people being mentioned as the potential prime minister are Ahmet Davutoğlu, Bülent Arınç, Binali Yıldırım and Mehmet ªahin.

Foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is a strong AKP leader and very talented and experienced diplomat who as the architect of Erdoğan’s risk-taking foreign policy is frequently regarded in the party as the “hoca,” the master teacher. Speaking a number of languages and with theoretical depth, especially on the Islamic world, Davutoğlu has proven his capability to address masses in political rallies, besides lecturing in halls. Yet Erdoğan might need Davutoğlu (also with a strong personal political agenda) as the foreign policy chief for some time more. Maybe, Erdogan will make him PM cum foreign minister.

However, if Davutoğlu is retained by Erdogan as foreign minister, deputy Prime Minister Arınç could be the next choice as he is one of the three big guns of the party together with Erdoğan and Gül. He would be willing to keep the post until the general elections in 2015 as a veteran of Islamic-conservative politics for nearly 40 years. Erdoğan, however, may think that what he needs is a name more loyal to him, rather than the common cause. The former transportation and communications minister is the favorite of business circles who are sure that he is 100 percent loyal to Erdoğan himself with no personal political ambitions; that means he could be a good bridge between the business world and Erdoğan.

Having served before as the justice minister, another deputy prime minister and parliamentary speaker, ªahin is now deputy chairman of the AK Party in charge of the political and legal department; that means he is the number two in the party after Erdoğan. ªahin has paid special attention to ensure that he has not been in front of the cameras and exposed to the public for some time, but he is among the masterminds of Erdoğan’s strategy, which will succeed if he is elected on the first round. ªahin is one of the strong candidates to lead the government and the party after Erdoğan.

Erdoğan might postpone the search for a PM for the time being if he wins in the first round as expected now and decides to go for an early parliamentary election in October or November of 2014 instead of June 2015, in order to take the advantage of his high vote rate.

It is commonly expected that Erdoğan will appoint a loyal member as prime minister and maintain his domination over the government, the party organization, and Parliament and pro-Erdoğan media.

How exactly will Erdoğan control the executive in the presence of a prime minister? Well, the Constitution says the President may “chair Cabinet meetings … if he deems necessary.” This is a power that has almost never been used by former presidents, but Erdoğan recently said he will use it “about once a month.” In the longer run, he also hopes to amend the Constitution significantly and turn his all-powerful presidency ideal into a more coherent system to project turkey as strongest power in Islamic world to take the anti-Islam challenge in the most fitting manner.

Obviously, Erdogan, seeking for over all development of Turkey and Turks, will not repeat the mistake of promoting the likes of Gülen in future. One thing Erdoğan promises to do after the election is to hold more scrutiny over the “parallel state,” or the Gülen Movement network within the state bureaucracy. This network is arguably not totally imaginary and some of its wrongdoings (such as extensive wiretaps) seem to deserve legal prosecution. However, Erdoğan’s purge on the “parallel state” has already turned into a vicious witch-hunt, demonizing anything (schools, NGOs, companies, banks) that is affiliated with the Gülen Movement. Moreover, the accusation of being “parallel” is now used by Erdoğan loyalists to vilify anyone who is not pro-Erdoğan enough or anti-Gülen enough. He will purge the AKP and government of all parasitic and parallel government elements. For sure!

However, all these signs do not indicate that there is a tense era ahead, as Erdoğan would take a miraculous turn opting for reconciliation for the sake of Turkey and AKP and for promoting the Islamist cause.

Obviously as President Erdogan would like to have premier who supports the AKP plans and also to aid Erdogan to vigorously and successfully pursue Turkish polices at home and abroad, especially Islam, Muslims and Muslim nations are being targeted by the enemies of Islam globally, not just in Palestine or South Asia or West Asia, where fascist forces of Israel, USA and Europe have joined hands to destabilize Islamic world.

Email: abdulruff@gmail.com

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