Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is not at risk of losing power or splitting if he is elected president, arguing that his party is different from all political parties of the past and present, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
"We are neither the ANAP nor any other party. We are a sui generis party. When late President Turgut Ozal was elected president, his party was already losing votes. In our case, however, our votes are on the increase. We have 46 percent of the votes currently. Every other person is voting for us," Erdogan reportedly told his lawmakers during an AKP camp over the weekend in remarks that seemed to solidify suggestions that he will run for president in August elections.
Ozal, ANAP's (Motherland Party) chair and a former prime minister, was elected as president in 1989 and left the party's leadership to Yildırım Akbulut, who was considered to be his "yes-man." Under Akbulut's leadership, ANAP lost its power and internal debates further weakened the party.
Although the ANAP example was discussed at the camp, an overwhelming majority of AKP officials and lawmakers have expressed their support for Erdogan's bid for the presidency. Although the prime minister recalled that he had not yet decided on his nomination, he assured his party colleagues that he would be an active president in the event of his election.
"A president elected by the people cannot be like the previous ones. As the head of the executive, the president uses all his constitutional powers. If I am elected president, I will also use all of them. I won't be a president of protocol," he reportedly told his lawmakers.
Recalling Article 104 of the Constitution that furnishes the president with significant powers, Erdogan said the head of the nation elected by the people would be a very strong president. "We'll be in support of whoever is elected president," Erdogan said.
Although the two-day camp was focused on the presidential elections slated for Aug. 10 and the post-Erdogan era in the AKP, the prime minister did not give any clue as to who could replace him as the prime minister and chairman of the party.
The party will continue to take the pulse of the people over the presidency and the next prime minister until late May before concluding deliberations on key decisions. Erdogan is likely to announce his decision on the presidential elections in June.