Candidate or candidates? AK Party decides today

Days before the Aug. 19 deadline for nominations for the presidential election, the ruling AK Party is expected to make a critical decision as to who it will nominate and, whether there will be one or more candidates.

Candidate or candidates? AK Party decides today

Days before the Aug. 19 deadline for nominations for the presidential election, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is expected to make a critical decision as to who it will nominate and, whether there will be one or more candidates.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül was the AK Party's sole candidate for the post in an earlier attempt to elect a president in May and is widely expected to be a frontrunner once more. However Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted on Friday that there might be more than one candidate nominated by his party when he referred to "candidates" in remarks to the press.

The presidential election will be the main item of discussion when government ministers gather for their regular Cabinet meeting this morning and when the AK Party's senior officials hold a Central Executive Committee (MYK) meeting later in the day.

The 10-day nomination period, which expires at midnight on Aug. 19, began on Friday, following formation of the Parliament's General Administrative Board. Sources claim the AK Party won't wait until the deadline and would prefer to announce its candidate this week, perhaps as early as today.

Prime Minister Erdoğan and other AK Party officials have been tight-lipped on the identities of candidates in the event of the party's decision to nominate more than one. The names of Murat Başesgioğlu, Vecdi Gönül and Cemil Çiçek have, however, been touted as possible competitors to Gül in the vote.

The main opposition grouping, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and its electoral ally, the Democratic Left Party (DSP), announced on Saturday that they were inclined to support Başesgioğlu, a former Motherland Party (ANAP, now ANAVATAN) politician. His wife, like those of Gönül and Çiçek does not wear a headscarf, unlike Mrs. Gül.

The CHP boycotted the May ballot and applied to the Constitutional Court to get the vote cancelled on the basis that there were less than 367 deputies in attendance. In a ruling criticized by legal experts, the court upheld the CHP's application, following which Gül withdrew his candidacy.

A nightmare scenario floated within AK Party circles appears to be likely to speed up process, observers say. According to this scenario, Başesgioğlu, Gönül and Çiçek may take the initiative and nominate if Gül fails to announce his bid in a timely manner. Gönül and Çiçek both have close personal ties to Gül, something that makes it unlikely that they will create difficulties for his presidential bid.

The same does not necessarily apply for Başesgioğlu. Having secured the support of the opposition parties, Başesgioğlu (say AK Party activists) may act alone if he sees a good prospect for success in the presidential ballot.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has not yet decided whether to name a candidate, may also support Başesgioğlu, thus boosting support for the former labor and social security minister. Added to his support from the opposition, Başesgioğlu may also win backing from a number of AK Party deputies who have reservations about Gül's candidacy, fearing that it could spark clashes with the secular state establishment and destabilize the situation.

Today's Zaman

Last Mod: 13 Ağustos 2007, 23:18
Add Comment