Is President Gül going to step down next year, at the end of August, and will he be succeeded by a President chosen directly by the people? Keep dreaming, I would say to opposition leaders Kilicdaroglu and Bahceli, who ‘demand’ this scenario. The opposition has nothing to demand here, as they are too small in parliament and have no power. The AKP has. Correction: Prime Minister Erdogan has. He has ambitions to become President, but not yet next year. 2014, that would be perfect, a year before the next general elections. So that’s how it’s most likely going to happen.
What is the debate about exactly? About the term that President Gül is supposed to be in office. He was elected by parliament in 2007, for a seven year term without the possibility of being re-elected. But after that, in the same year, a constitutional change was approved, stating that the Presidents term will go down to five years, that this term can be renewed with five years once, and that the President will no longer be elected by parliament but directly by the people.
The opposition states the changes apply to President Gül too. Ruling AKP, of which President Gül was one of the founding members in 2001, says Gül was elected for a seven year term and that’s how long he will stay in his position.
I just can’t figure out why MHP and CHP make such a big issue of it. Okay, they take every chance they get to cause a discussion, but besides that? It is said it has to do with the ambitions of Prime Minister Erdogan to become President. If presidential elections are held next year, it would be too soon for Erdogan to make his mind up, they think. Could be, but then Erdogan will just wait till after the second term of President Gül to run for President himself. I mean, if the opposition insists on the new rules applying to Gül as well, then he could go for a second term next year, right?
Calculate with me.
Scenario A. Imagine Gül steps down next year, and is re-elected for a five year term. Then he’ll be in office till 2017. Then Erdogan could take over, for two five year terms. President Erdogan will rule Turkey from 2017 till 2027.
Scenario B. Imagine Gül completes his seven year term, till 2014. That’s one year before the next general elections. According to internal party rules, Erdogan can’t run for a fourth term as Prime Minister. So if he wants to stay powerful – and rumour goes he loves power – then the only thing he can do is become President. One scenario is that Gül could become Prime Minister then. This scenario is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Putin-Medvedev scenario’. Erdogan would become President in 2014, for two five year terms, so that’s till 2024.
Scenario C. Imagine Gül finishes his seven year term, and is then re-elected for a five year term. Not very likely, im my humble opinion: if you insist on a seven year term stating that’s the term he was originally voted into office for, then automatically also the rule of a maximum of one term counts. But even if the AKP would somehow change that rule, it’s not very likely that Gül would run for a five year term in 2014. That would be till 2019, leaving Erdogan jobless for four years, yearning for the presidential palace. Besides that, there is a rumour about Gül too: some say he could have a chance to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the term of Ban Ki-moon ends December 2016. Anyway, this scenario would bring Erdogan to the presidential palace in 2019, till 2029.
In all these calculations, Erdogan will be the President of Turkey in 2023. And that’s very important, because in that year the 100th birthday of the Republic of Turkey will be celebrated. To be the President in that year would complete Erdogans political career as the most powerful politician since Atatürk, the founder of the republic.
If the opposition doesn’t want this to happen, they better start offering the public a serious alternative for the AKP, in stead of wasting energy with meaningles retorics about the duration of President Güls term in office.