News / Europe

In Turkey, Erdogan's PM Choice Central to Ambitions

  • Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and wife Ermine wave to supporters as they celebrate his  presidential victory, in front of the party headquarters, in Ankara, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • A cat sleeps next to a newspaper showing a photo of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in central Istanbul, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan celebrate his election victory in front of the party headquarters, in Ankara, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • A queue of people wait to vote in the presidential election, Turkey, Aug. 10, 2014. (Mehtap Colak Yilmaz/VOA)
  • A man casts his ballot in the presidential election, Turkey, Aug. 10, 2014. (Mehtap Colak Yilmaz/VOA)
  • Competing campaign billboards for the presidential election line the street, Turkey, Aug. 10, 2014. (Mehtap Colak Yilmaz/VOA)
Erdogan Wins Presidential Poll
Dorian Jones

With Recep Tayyip Erdogan elected president, his first challenge is finding a successor for the office of prime minister and a leader for his political party, AKP. While he says he wants to maximize the power of the presidency, the real power still remains in parliament.

With a general election due in less than a year, finding a leader that can keep his party united -- while at the same time is loyal enough to maintain his power -- is seen as a key challenge facing Erdogan.
His supporters celebrated into the early morning after Erdogan was elected Turkey’s 12th president.

Turkey, presidential election results, Aug. 11, 2014Turkey, presidential election results, Aug. 11, 2014
Turkey, presidential election results, Aug. 11, 2014
Turkey, presidential election results, Aug. 11, 2014

While he scored a first-round victory with an absolute majority of the voters, analyst Sinan Ulgen of the Carnegie Institute in Brussels said the new president has a pressing problem.

According to the Turkish constitution, the main executive power is held by the prime minister and not the president, according to Ulgen. It is clear Erdogan will want to introduce a de-facto executive presidency, but that is going to be difficult given Turkish constitutional order. So the name that will replace Erdogan as the next prime minister of the country, will also be extremely important.

AK Party decisions
Although his AK Party dominates parliament, choosing a successor may not be easy. Ulgen said the new prime minister will have to be a skilled politician.
"The next prime minister will have to do a very complicated act of political balancing. On the one hand, he will have to impose his authority over the party. He will need to have to establish a sense of balance with the president-elect. And he will have to take his party to the parliamentary elections in 2015," he said.

Another factor, which Erdogan is expected weigh when choosing a new prime minister, will be the ability of his successor to hold the ruling AK Party together.
The party is made up of wide-ranging and often conflicting factions. Analysts say Erdogan’s biggest achievement as prime minister was his ability to keep the party united.

Possible successors

Opponents fear an increasingly authoritarian state. Erdogan chaired a meeting Monday of the party's highest decision-making board, the first step in a process that will culminate with the naming of his replacement as prime minister once he is inaugurated as president on August 28.

Party spokesman Huseyin Celik said the AK Party will hold an extraordinary convention on August 27, at which it will select a new party leader, a figure Erdogan is then expected to ask to form a new government.

Senior AK officials say Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who has strong support within the party bureaucracy and has been Erdogan's right-hand man internationally, is the top choice to succeed him, although former transport minister Binali Yildirimis also is trying to position himself for the job.

President Abdullah Gul, long seen as a potential future prime minister, on Monday signaled a return to politics after his term expires on August 28, saying he would play a role in the ruling AK Party he co-founded with Erdogan. Gul could not become prime minister immediately as he is not currently a member of parliament, although his role could change after parliamentary elections due in 2015.

General elections

Next year, Turkey holds general elections. Political columnist Asli Aydintasbas of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, said the outcome of those polls will be crucial to Erdogan’s ambitions.
"Erdogan will not be the head of the party so the party will go into election without an extremely charismatic figurehead," he said. "They will actually be fighting their own battles. And on top of it, if they don't raise their votes, they will fall short of the number in parliament they need to change the constitution. So who heads the party for 2015 is extremely important."

Turkey’s recent political history is littered with powerful political leaders who, after becoming president, have seen their powers whither.  

If Erdogan is able to orchestrate the appointment of a malleable interim prime minister, he is expected to influence decisions and continue to run the government until he fulfills his long-term ambition of replacing the parliamentary system with a presidential one. This makes his choice of successor one of the most important decisions he will have to make in his new role.

Reuters information contributed to this report.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs