The new elites of Turkey associated with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) including Gül and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan are experienced politicians who have become involved in politics from an early age. They have organizational skills and are extremely talented with timing. They remain calm in their considerations and calculations. Their political intuitions and reflexes are pretty strong. For this reason, their steps and attempts should be considered within a general strategy. Statements by the president represent a counterattack dealing with a siege against him. Gül took out his sword; he is ready to play his cards. 2014 will be shaped by the competition between Gül and Erdoğan. What I refer to is not Gül’s candidacy. Gül is fortifying his frontiers and preparing to take over as prime minister.
The annulment of the bill which determined that the term of office for a president was seven years by the constitutional court cleared the way for the president to run for office for a second term. This decision changed the political balances. Erdoğan did not leave any alternative other than the presidency. He was busy with shaping the party for after his departure. In the new setting, it is likely that Gül will do this.
The AK Party enjoys strong popular support. Erdoğan holds huge political power. Gül, on the other hand, is unable to compete with the prime minister over the presidency, which should be an impartial office and position. His recent remarks suggest that he has decided not to stay impartial and he has pulled on his boots. Does the interpretation and statement raised by AK Party figures suggest that these two are brothers and they would solve this matter by a code of brotherhood?
This was the case in 2007 when they had to cooperate and stand united vis-à-vis the power and rule of the military guardianship. It is possible to see this as an inevitable alliance against a common enemy. Otherwise, both would have been eliminated from the political stage. 2007 was a year where consecutive political crises had taken place. The April 27 memorandum, 367 crisis and elections were strong indicators and signs of this systemic crisis. All of these were handled by the team efforts of the AK Party. But there is no longer a systemic crisis within the state. The AK Party has complete control over the state. Therefore, there is a fertile ground for political entanglements. There is no need to stand united against a common enemy.
It is possible to see the growing row between Gül and Erdoğan as the normalization of politics. Instead of a systemic crisis, it is a political crisis, or even an intra-party crisis that is erupting. This is only natural. The political base that both politicians rely on for their tactics and moves against each other is pretty strong. For this reason, it would be correct to see this row as a normalization of politics.
How will this row end? The first possibility is that Erdoğan becomes president and Gül becomes AK Party leader and prime minister. But this is based on the assumption that the AK Party preserves its current popular support. There will be local elections in 2014. It is also possible that they will be held in 2013. If the AK Party experiences defeat in the big cities in these elections, the calculations for 2014 may become completely different.