Erdogan to return to Turkey's ruling party as chairman

The party's newly appointed spokesman Bülent Tezcan said Friday that CHP will not participate in the congress as it opposes the re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as AK Party chairman.

Mr Erdogan is the first president to lead a party since Ismet Inonu, who succeeded modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and was head of state until 1950. Central to the country's president, who, after the recent referendum on the reform of the constitution, has been able to return as a member to the ranks of the party he founded.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has formally extended the state of emergency declared after a failed 2016 military coup, saying the decree will remain in place until the country finds "welfare and peace".

"The most crucial outcome of his power grab within the AKP is that as the president-cum-party leader, Erdogan will hold the reins of the lawmakers who are supposed to check and balance the executive, and impeach the president, if necessary", Erdemir said.

Thousands of party faithful crammed into the Ankara sports arena gave Erdogan a rock star-like reception as he attended his first major party event since 2014.

The other amendments, giving the president authority to draft the budget, declare a state of emergency and issue decrees, will not take effect until after elections scheduled for November 2019.

The congress is expected to last all day, with speeches by the current party chairman, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Erdogan, to be followed with voting.

Between 2003 and 2014, he was prime minister for three terms leading what is by far the most effective Islamic-rooted political force in modern Turkish history.

In a speech lasting an hour and 45 minutes before the vote, he said he wanted a "serious renewal" of the party by year-end.

Such sweeping political changes, Erdogan says, are vital to ensure stability in Turkey in the face of militant threats and after an attempted coup past year that Ankara attributed to supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. In the capital and on social media posters and images have appeared of Erdogan and slogans such as "iron will, strong Turkey" and "full steam ahead with the founding leader".

Calling the purge necessary for the country's survival, Mr Erdogan said, "Nothing in Turkey will be like what it was before July 15". According to Aykan Erdemir, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Erdogan "could informally dictate the AKP's MP candidates to a great extent" even after leaving in 2014.

Well-connected Hurriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi previously said Erdogan would oversee a oversee a shake-up of AKP leaders at local level determined by their success in the referendum.

"This new prerogative will allow him to design both a party apparatus and a parliamentary group composed entirely of loyalists". But there was no indication of any link to the congress.

  • Zachary Reyes