The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party needs to undergo a "much more radical change" ahead of the 2019 general elections, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.
Speaking at an event marking the 16th anniversary of the AK Party at a theme park in the capital’s Sincan district, Erdogan said the party had undergone a lot of changes during the last 16 years, "but this time we need a more radical change."
Referring to the recent reorganization made in the party’s governing body, Erdogan attributed the party's current success to the continuous changes made in the party's organizational structure, saying this move should not be considered a "purge" but rather a "reshuffle" in this "service" which we consider a "relay race".
Five new ministers joined the Turkish Cabinet last month in a reshuffle of the government posts. Six existing ministers were reappointed, meaning a total of 11 changes in the 27-member Cabinet.
The reshuffle followed April’s constitutional referendum that allowed Erdogan to resume his official ties to the ruling party.
Erdogan said the need for change was driven in particular by the 2019 elections, adding "We should work towards this end".
The president added that the completion of the 2023 goals would crown AK Party's achievements, referring to Turkey's vision for 2023, which marks the centenary of the Republic of Turkey.
The country has set specific goals and targets for the year 2023 that include major improvements in the economy, energy, health care, and transportation.
Erdogan retook the party reins at an extraordinary congress on May 21, 2017. For nearly three years prior, as president he was barred from leading the party, but constitutional changes ratified in a public referendum ended that prohibition.
He had led the party for 13 years starting from its foundation in 2001.
During his time as prime minister from 2003-2014 he saw two general elections in which the party returned to power with a greater share of the vote each time.