Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has announced that it will put the final touches to its plans for both the upcoming presidential elections and the related article of the party's internal regulations, following a series of meetings that are expected to be completed by May, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
"Particularities regarding both the presidential elections and the [internal party] three-term limit rule will be discussed at an expanded meeting of provincial chairs on April 18, then at a meeting with delegates of the Great Congress and at the 22nd Consultation and Assessment Meeting before the beginning of May. In this way, a final decision will be reached," AKP Deputy Chair and Spokesperson Huseyin Celik said in a written statement on April 16.
The statement was released as a meeting was still ongoing between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and AKP deputies, during which they focused on the party's internal regulations, which currently limit the mandate of party lawmakers to three consecutive terms in Parliament.
The limit is crucial because it would restrict Erdogan if he wants to run for prime minister again in the June 2015 parliamentary elections as the AKP leader, rather than run for the presidency. Erdogan has been elected as a lawmaker for three consecutive terms since March 2003, when he entered Parliament for the first time through a by-election in the Eastern Anatolian province of Siirt.
Celik stated that survey forms were distributed to deputies during the meeting in order to find out their opinions of both the presidential elections, the first round of which will be held on Aug. 10, and the three-term rule. He added that "the headquarters" would then assess the survey forms.
"Many important matters from 'who should be the prime minister' after the 2002 general election to 'who should be the candidate for the presidency' in 2007, were resolved through common sense and as a result of extensive consultations and assessments," Celik said.
After being elected as a lawmaker in March 2003, Erdogan took over the prime ministry from Gul, who had been the first-ever prime minister from the AKP. Gul remained in Erdogan's Cabinet until being elected as president in August 2007 after months of tension and controversy. His election became possible only after the AKP government narrowly escaped an intervention by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in 2007 when military forces issued a warning against the candidacy of then-Foreign Minister Gul, mainly because his spouse wears a headscarf, which had been seen as an alarming symbol of "fundamentalism."