Erdogan and his ‘autonomy’ from the AKP

Erdogan and his ‘autonomy’ from the AKP


The “trinity” in his environment that effects his decision making

What are his plans for the presidential elections and who are his possible successors

By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara

In Turkey everyone is waiting for July 1 when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will announce the name of its candidate for the presidential elections in Turkey. The favorite for the anointment is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but some political analysts believe the retention of Abdullah Gul for another term at the presidential palace Cankaya should not be excluded.

The Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, with a statement on Wednesday claimed that “Erdogan will probably be the candidate” giving an indication of the climate in the AKP.

Indeed Erdogan’s “dream”  is to be elected to the highest office of the Republic of Turkey. His ultimate goal is to change the Constitution after the national elections of 2015, increasing the powers of the President. Essentially he wants to become the “Putin of Turkey”.

Of course Erdogan’s plans have provoked many discussions within the AKP. Gul, a number of times in public and in private discussions with the Turkish Prime Minister, has expressed his wish to stand for another term as President. In addition, some AKP officials express their reservations about the future of the party after the resignation of Erdogan. They fear that its power may shrink.

Erdogan, his new “environment” and his “autonomy” from AKP

But Erdogan does not seem to hear the old members like Abdullah Gul and Bülent Arınç who are among the founders of the AKP in 2001. He wants to “clear” the party of the old and continue the course -as the President of the Republic- “to the creation of the new Turkey by 2023”, with the new, fully devoted to him, environment.

The individuals who are always next to Erdogan and who he trusts completely are the Head of the Turkish intelligence services (MIT) Hakan Fidan, the Ankara MP and newspaper columnist for “STAR” Yalçın Akdoğan, and his personal advisor journalist Yiğit Bulut. (Bulut was the one who had claimed that there are some who try to assassinate the Turkish Prime Minister with telekinesis). This triad determines the political developments in Turkey with the Turkish Prime Minister believing that the renewal of his environment, which operates independently of the AKP, will lead him to an even stronger political future to make the changes he wants. Essentially Erdogan becomes autonomous from the AKP.

This “triad” has led to a rupture between the Turkish Prime Minister and the Islamic order of Fethullah Gülen, since all of them (triad) were claiming that the Turkish Prime Minister should not be accountable on critical areas of the state’s operation.

For critical decisions, Erdogan used to listen to the advice of the executive organ of the AKP, where important personalities of the party could persuade him to change his stance on important issues.

Now the decisions are taken by the “triad”.

The nonexistent opposition

Within this climate the opposition parties show helpless to take action. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) along with the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) announced a joint candidate whom some political analysts in private conversations stress that “Turkey does not even know his mother”.

The Ekmeleddin Ishanoglu was secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference for 14 years, but he is not know in Turkey as he has been absent for many years. There is major political controversy inside the CHP, as for the first time the party founded by Kemal Ataturk appoints as presidential candidate an Islamist who does not talk very fondly of Kemal.

“How did you in the CHP manage to find this completely unknown candidate, who was born and raised in Egypt, who is a professor at the University of “Sharia” and is an employee of Islamic organizations”, says the columnist of the opposition newspaper “Sözcü”, Bekir Coskun.

Two opinion polls for the newspaper “Sabah” by the survey company “Sonar” show that if Erdogan runs for president in the elections on August 10, he may be elected with 53-55% of the votes, compared to the 35-38% of the votes that Ishanoglu is likely to get.

The role of the Kurds and their possible abstention

Of course, for the Turkish prime minister to receive these rates, of great importance becomes the vote of the Kurds, who control approximately 6.8% of the voters based on the results of the last municipal elections last March.

“In this case both the Abdullah Ocalan in Imrali and the wings of the PKK, may seekt to negotiate with Erdogan… If Erdogan meets the demands of the HDP, at the cost of risking his own nationalist votes, the Kurds at best will abstain from the polls and wll lead to his election as President”, says the political analyst Murat Yetkin of the newspaper Radikal.

This is perhaps why the turkish government has submitted to Parliament part of the “Kurdish package”; the bill that grants partial immunity to some members of the PKK.

The names for Erdogan’s successor

If Erdogan decides to ascend to the presidential palace situated on the hill of Cankagia in Ankara, inside the AKP many wonder who will be his successor. There are three predominant names: the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for the economy Ali Babacan  (even though he said he wants to retire from politics), the Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the Head of MIT, Hakan Fidan.

However Babacan, seems to be the favorite, as some things may lie in the details. Since 2002, that the AKP has been in power, the Prime Minister was represented by the vice-president and Government Spokesman, Bulent Arinc. On the last trip abroad (Vienna, Lyon 19-21/6), Erdogan left for the first time as his replacement Ali Babacan. The 47-year-old Babacan with many years of studies in the U.S., at the age of 35 had been appointed Finance Minister (2002-2007) and can replace Erdogan until the national elections of 2015.

Davutoglu, however, has the advantage of being in his first term as an MP, while most of AKP’s prominent members in 2015 will have completed three consecutive terms as MPs and will obliged to “withdraw” for four years, based on the relevant provision of the Statute of the AKP.

This term will put out of active politics at least 70 experienced members of the party, with Erdogan (he also completes three terms) so far refusing to change the statute as he believes that the AKP’s executive members should be renewed.