Wednesday, 09 July 2014

What the Columnists Say

Published in Roundup of Columnists

The reactions to the announcement of the presidential candidacy of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan illustrated that there is some anxiety among pro-AKP commentators regarding the future of the ruling party.

Fehmi Koru in Star wrote that the party now faces what will be an uncertain future, when it will have to find a formula that ensures continued success without Erdoğan’s active involvement. It was also noted that Erdoğan’s plans to be an executive president requires that the AKP selects a new leader with little charisma; but that in turn cannot be reconciled with the party’s concurrent need to maintain its present strength, absent which it will not be able to amend the constitution and introduce a presidential system. It was furthermore observed that Erdoğan presented his candidacy in strikingly religious terms. The commentators also observed that Erdoğan vowed to step up the fight against the Gülen movement and continue the peace process with the Kurdish movement when he is elected president.

Fehmi Koru in Star writes that Erdoğan gave strong assurances to those who fear that the party and the government are going to develop in different directions after his departure. The peace process to solve the Kurdish problem is going to continue uninterrupted. And the same goes for the fight with the “parallel structure.” He apparently believes that this will be possible within the current constitutional framework… For the AK Party members, this opens a new era with a considerable amount of unknowns if they succeed – as everyone expects they will – to elect their leader president. It is going to be an era when they will have to prove the permanency of their party in politics. Tayyip Erdoğan, being a politician with very strong leadership qualities, took his party from success to success; it is now up to the party cadres to find a formula that will ensure that the success continues in a situation when Erdoğan as president is not going to be able to intervene and to ensure that AK Party avoid the fate that the Motherland Party (ANAP) and the True path party (DYP) met before it.

Utku Çakırözer in Cumhuriyet notes that Erdoğan started his acceptance speech with a prayer and ended it with a prayer. The fact that he spoke frequently about “our cause” reminded of his National Outlook days when he was in politics alongside Necmettin Erbakan. Expressions such as “Victory belongs only to God” cannot be explained only with the fact that it is Ramadan now and with the presence of a rival who is close to the Islamic tradition. It was as if Erdoğan with these words presented himself to us not as someone who is seeking the presidency of the secular Republic of Turkey, but as a warrior embarking on a battle in the name of the whole Islamic umma.

Ruşen Çakır in Vatan observes that Erdoğan vowed to step up the fight against the “parallel structure” if he gets elected president. An equally important statement was his vow that “during our presidency we are never ever going to the peace process to be obstructed.” There is nothing surprising with this, as the decisive force in the presidential race is going to be the voters of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy party (HDP), and as it look very difficult for İhsanoğlu to win votes from this part of the electorate. That leaves the Gülen movement. Is the movement going to succeed with what it failed to do during the March 30 local elections and inflict defeat on Erdoğan in the presidential election, namely making a victory for İhsanoğlu possible? It is truly difficult for sure, but if Erdoğan does emerge victorious from this election, it is also true that even worse days are in store for the “cemaat” that he has declared his main enemy. For that reason it is to be expected that the “cemaat” is going to do everything in its power to ensure that Erdoğan doesn’t get elected.

Bekir Ağırdır on the t24 news site writes that two conditions will have to be met if Erdoğan is going to be the kind of the president that is being suggested. The first is that the new leader of the AK Party and the Prime Minister is a person that is someone with little charisma and with limited leadership aspirations. The second condition is that the AK Party maintains is present vote in the parliamentary election in June 2015. The two missions that are ascribed to the new AK Party leader are in contradiction with each other. There is no problem in designating a low profile AK Party leader and Prime Minister. But how is the AK Party going to preserve its present strength in the June 2015 elections with a low profile leader?  For the AK Party to be able to amend the constitution and introduce a presidential system requires that the party receives at least 50 percent of the votes. How is this going to be achieved with a low profile leader?

Aslı Aydıntaşbas in Milliyet notes that Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate of the Kurdish HDP aims at getting votes from outside the Kurdish voter base.  He has very clearly set his eyes on getting votes from Alevis, the Gezi protesters and from those CHP supporters who are disappointed with the candidate that their party nominated. He is making a determined effort not to get confined to the Kurdish issue. With his youth and being a good public speaker, Demirtaş’s campaign could very likely yield 8-9 percent of the vote. Such an outcome is going to increase both the possibility that there will be a second round of the presidential election, as well as the leverage of the Kurdish movement in the ongoing negotiations with Ankara, giving it serious political strength.

Read 7992 times Last modified on Monday, 04 August 2014

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