Gül, Erdoğan switching roles

With the Constitutional Court’s rejection of an appeal requesting the annulment »»

With the Constitutional Court’s rejection of an appeal requesting the annulment of a new law setting the presidential term at seven years for incumbent Abdullah Gül, Gül as well as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are now both free to run in the 2014 presidential election. Yet many columnists don’t expect a harsh rivalry between Gül and Erdoğan as it would harm both their party and their deep-rooted friendship.

Şamil Tayyar from the Star daily says that we have two main reasons to expect an extraordinary presidential election in 2014: The president, for the first time, will be elected by the public; and there is a high probability that Erdoğan will put forward his candidacy. We can’t know what difference the first reason will bring, but the second reason does not seem to lead to great conflicts, unlike what many argue, because the relationship between Gül and Erdoğan does not depend on plans and expectations for the future. They have a relationship of brotherhood, one which has helped them come to their current positions without any quarrel. Tayyar says the alleged rivalry between Erdoğan and Gül is a fabrication produced by anti-government groups with the hope of dividing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), just like the rumor of an alleged rift between the Hizmet movement and the government. The commitment and support between Erdoğan and Gül and between the Hizmet movement and the government are not something we are used to seeing in politics; but these are certainly what we will continue to see in the future, he argued.

Hürriyet’s Taha Akyol speaks with certainty of Erdoğan becoming the next president and Gül taking over Erdoğan’s current position. Erdoğan certainly has too much energy and power to miss the opportunity to become president; considering Gül’s frequent visits abroad and his positive relationship with the public, it is certain that he is not planning to retire soon either.

Presidential elections will take place in 2014 and general elections are to take place one year later in 2015. And according to the Vatan’s Okay Gönensin, one year between the presidential elections and general elections might lead to “technical” difficulties. If Erdoğan is to move into the Çankaya presidential palace, then the post of prime minister will be vacant for one year. Considering every scenario beforehand, we can solve this situation with an amendment or holding an interim election. But either way, we must take measures and deal with this situation before 2014, Gönensin argues.