With Erdogan president, Turkey's deputy PM to move up: MP

ANKARA - Turkey’s new prime minister will be Bulent Arinc, the 'doyen' of ruling AK Party, after Recep Tayyip Erdogan goes on to become president, according to a deputy from the party that dominated the last decade of Turkish politics.

Prime Minister Erdogan, one of the most successful politicians in modern Turkish history, is serving his third term, the highest allowed in his party’s constitution.

He is expected soon to announce his presidential bid, which would then segue into a much-anticipated campaign for the upcoming election on August 10.

The suspense has been building up since AK Party scored another victory at the local elections on March 30.

But for AK Party Deputy Ali Riza Alaboyun, Erdogan’s presidency has already become crystal clear.

Now it’s time to bring up the issue of who will replace him.

"I think that Bulent Arinc -- the doyen of our party -- will lead the party as prime minister until 12 June 2015 (general) elections," Alaboyun says.

He adds that current president, Abdullah Gul, would take over the leadership of the AK Party.

"Gul will be convinced for being the AK Party's chairman in party convention (in autumn) and he will lead the party until the elections.

"After Prime Minister Erdogan has been Turkey's president, I don't think that an early election is necessary for Gul's leadership."

It will be the first time that Turkey's president will be elected by direct popular vote.

A candidate needs more than 50 percent of the popular vote to be elected in the first round.

If no candidate receives the required percentage, a run-off follows in August 24.

Alaboyun views Abdullah Gul’s leadership in the AK Party as significant, particularly since Erdogan made no secret of his plans to change the political system, a switch that would give him actual powers as president rather than the ceremonial role that the current presidency entails.

Alaboyun says the party needs a leader who would maintain its tradition of electoral success so that it can achieve the number of MPs it needs to amend the constitution in accordance with the presidential system Erdogan seeks.

"This leader is Abdullah Gul," Alaboyun says.

According to Turkey's constitution, a bill can be adopted only by secret votes of three-fifth majority of the parliament, which is equal to votes of 330 MPs. AK Party currently has 313.

The president can veto the constitutional amendment bills, and send them back to the parliament for a review, triggering a lengthy process that might end in a referendum.

But all this may become unnecessary if AK Party is strong and Erdogan is president.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency