Motivated by his return to active politics in the AK Party, President Erdoğan is ready to work harder than ever on economic and democratic reforms
His separation from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lasted 989 days. It was a constitutional requirement that he leave his beloved party that he founded in 2001 and carried to successive victories in the past 15 years.
The constitution previously required the president to sever his political affiliations once he was elected head of state either by Parliament or directly by the people.
A new amendment to the Constitution, which was approved by a referendum on April 16, allows the president to be a member of a political party. So the president rejoined the AK Party on May 2 and was elected as the chairman of the party in an extraordinary convention on May 21, an event that was steeped in festivities by AK Party supporters.
Now all the formalities are over and the founder of the AK Party is back with his beloved party as the commander in chief. However, this is not the first time in Turkish political history that a party leader has also been the president. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the great founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, was president and leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP). His successor İsmet İnönü also served as president and chairman of the CHP for many years. The Democrat Party that unseated the CHP from power in the 1950 elections was headed by Celal Bayar, who was also the president. Later Bayar quit as party chief but remained a senior member of the party.
The opposition CHP has challenged the new application of the president being a member of a political party. They claim the president loses his impartiality and will not be able to treat the 80 million people of Turkey in an even-handed manner.
Yet, no president in the past has really been impartial. They have not treated the political parties or the citizens in an even-handed manner. They have acted according to their political affiliations.
President Turgut Özal quit the Motherland Party (ANAP) when he was elected head of state but continued to meddle in the internal affairs of the party. Left-wing leaning President Ahmet Necdet Sezer made life hell for the AK Party government led by Erdoğan.
Every president had political affiliations and they did not distance themselves from these.
Once a president is elected he is the head of state of all the people and not just the AK Party crowd. He has to treat everyone impartially and this is guaranteed by laws and regulations. If Justice is not served there are courts that will stand up for the citizen.
From now on presidents are also the top executives of the country who will be the supreme boss thus they need to have political backing of some kind and party membership is one of these. When they seek election or re-election they have to feel the power of a political force behind them and thus they need a political party.President Erdoğan now officially has that backing. Yet, he sees that the AK Party needs reforming and rejuvenation. Thus he has set off to revamp the party executive. He will continue by revamping the party provincial and local structure and then do a shakeup at the municipality level.
Once the puts the AK Party house in order then he will work on economic and democratic reform to prepare for the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.
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