The candidates who will be running in the first round of the presidential elections are at last announced. Naturally, the anticipated news was the candidate of the Justice and Development Part (AK Party). Different scenarios and opinions were aired on mass media, and the prime minister did not pour oil on troubled waters, stating till the last moment that the AK Party may "throw a curve." The fact that the candidacy of a politician causes such a stir in the whole society signifies once again the importance of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the political epicenter of Turkey.
The wait has come to an end: The meeting that was held at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce Hall with great enthusiasm was not only limited to the announcement of Prime Minister Erdoğan's candidacy. It mostly signified a manifesto in which the prime minister explained the fundamental principles of his possible presidency in which he thoroughly questioned the way of governance in Turkey.
The prime minister has not only rejected the idea of a "one-size-fits-all citizenship" that had been imposed in line with the nation-state ideals of the Republic from its foundation, but also emphasized the importance of a highly legitimate leadership not only at the de facto but also at the moral level in a presidential model where the president is directly elected through "participatory democracy." His address and the short documentary shown were influential in the sense of summarizing his political struggle since his youth. Erdoğan explained strikingly how one could achieve people's true support by means of patience, resistance, faith and tenacity in politics.
His speech contained important messages. To begin with, he refused any speculation about the post-presidential election period by pointing out that "there is no I, but us." He underlined that he will never be detached from his fellow companions, and although he will not be able to meet with them in AK Party institutions or meetings, he will be maintaining his political ideology throughout his candidacy. The most significant thresholds are stated as economic growth, progress in the standards of democracy and full membership in the EU. In a sense, he stipulated what the general policy of Turkey would be. The most important message was no doubt his faith and determination in the "resolution process." The most striking and the most impressive part of his political manifesto was when he stressed that he would back the process at all costs to succeed.
The prime minister's emphasis on his commitment to carry the on-going hard struggle against the "parallel structure" till to the end was quite noteworthy. He reconfirmed on-air to millions that he would not tolerate any organization having no democratic legitimacy.
The Turkish state system in which the bureaucracy and the people have increasingly diverged since the Tanzimat reform era back in 1839 would undergo a major change if Erdoğan was elected. Erdoğan has faith in a modern Turkey that leaves behind the shortcomings, shackles and the guardianship systems from the past. Making several references to the past, he indicated that anti-democratic acts couldn't be advocated today.
Erdoğan is determined to lay the foundations of a new era with this presidential election. He plans to govern a Turkey where discrimination, guardianship and parallel bodies will not be tolerated and where pluralism and peaceful cohabitation will be upheld. This is what he asks the votes for. It will be a difficult competition for the rival candidates.