World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will almost certainly be announced next week as the ruling party's candidate for August's presidential election, deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc said on Wednesday.
It will be the first time Turk voted directly for their president. Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, has made little secret of his ambition to stand for what he has said will be a stronger presidency.
"We pretty much know who our presidential candidate will be ... Barring any obstacles, on July 1, the nomination of our prime minister will most likely be announced," Arinc told Turkish media, in comments confirmed by his office.
Arinc said Erdogan had not faced any opposition during consultations on his potential candidacy.
"Every group he has held talks with has expressed a favourable view on his nomination. What remains is his own judgment," he said.
Erdogan has made it clear that the direct nature of the August vote will enable him to exercise stronger powers than the incumbent President Abdullah Gul, whose role over the past seven years has largely been ceremonial.
Speculation over who will succeed him as prime minister has mounted, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu seen as a possible contender, but Arinc said it was too soon to discuss the issue.
"We will be announcing our candidate on July 1 and who will become the prime minister, even temporarily, after that day are private matters not to be discussed now," he said.
Last week, the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said they had agreed to nominate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who stepped down in December as head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their joint candidate for the presidential race.
Erdogan would win Turkish presidency in first round - polls
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would comfortably win the August presidential election if he decides to run, according to two local polls which give him a 20-point lead over his nearest challenger.
The vote will be the first time that Turkey has directly elected its head of state. Erdogan, who has dominated political life for more than a decade, has made little secret of his desire to be president.
If he assumes the presidency he is expected to exercise existing presidential powers to a much greater extent than incumbent President Abdullah Gul, whose role over the past seven years has been largely ceremonial.
His ruling AK Party will not announce its candidate until next Tuesday but Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on Wednesday it will almost certainly be Erdogan.
A survey conducted by Turkish pollster Genar predicts Erdogan would win 55.2 percent of the vote, with Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the joint candidate of the country's two leading opposition parties, on 35.8 percent.
A second poll conducted by MAK Consultancy put Erdogan on 56.1 percent and his rival on 34.2 percent, the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah reported on Thursday.
Both polls have Selahattin Demirtas, the expected candidate for Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party, on less than 10 percent.
Erdogan would need at least 50 percent to win outright in the first round on Aug. 10, and avoid a potential second round run-off which could see opponents of his divisive style attempt to rally behind a single candidate.Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2014, 12:00