Monday, August 11, 2014
Turkey awaits choice of Prime Minister after Erdoğan wins presidential elections
Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife Ermine wave to supporters at terh headquarters of the AK party after the election results had become known. (Reuters)
Turkey's ruling party began deliberations on the shape of the next government on Monday after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan secured his place in history by winning the nation's first direct presidential election.
Erdoğan's victory in Sunday's vote takes him a step closer to the executive presidency he has long coveted for Turkey. But it is an outcome which his opponents fear will herald an increasingly authoritarian rule, the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman writes.
In the coming weeks, Erdoğan will for the last time chair meetings of the ruling AK Party he founded and oversee the selection of a new party leader, likely to be a staunch loyalist and his future prime minister. He will be inaugurated on Aug. 28.
"Today is a new day, a milestone for Turkey, the birthday of Turkey, of its rebirth from the ashes," Erdoğan, 60, told thousands of supporters in a victory speech from the balcony of the AK Party headquarters in Ankara late on Sunday.
Supporters honking car horns and waving flags took to the streets in Ankara after results on Turkish television said Erdoğan, the prime minister for more than a decade, had won 52 percent of the vote.
It was a narrower margin of victory than polls had suggested but still 13 points more than Erdoğan's closest rival, and comfortable enough to avoid the need for a second round runoff.
Erdoğan has vowed to exercise the full powers granted to the presidency under current laws, unlike predecessors who played a mainly ceremonial role. But he has made no secret of his plans to change the constitution and forge an executive presidency. "I want to underline that I will be the president of all 77 million people, not only those who voted for me. I will be a president who works for the flag, for the country, for the people," he said in his victory speech.
While the expanses of the conservative Anatolian heartlands voted overwhelmingly for Erdoğan, the more liberal western Aegean and Mediterranean coastal fringe was dominated by main opposition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and the southeastern corner by Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas.
Ihsanoglu, a former diplomat and academic who won 38.5 percent of the vote according to broadcasters CNN Turk and NTV, Demirtaş took 9.7 percent, according to the TV stations - a result for an ethnic Kurd that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago as Turkey battled a Kurdish struggle and sought to quell demands from the ethnic minority.
It will be vital for Erdoğan to have a loyal prime minister. Senior AK officials say foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who has strong support within the party bureaucracy and has been Erdoğan's right-hand man internationally, is the top choice to succeed him, although former transport minister Binali Yıldırım is also trying to position himself for the job. Erdoğan's critics fear a supine prime minister will leave him too powerful, and erode the presidency's traditional role as a check on the powers of the executive. His backers dismiss such concerns, arguing Turkey needs strong leadership.