President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will rejoin the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on May 2, party chairman and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced on Friday. The prime minister said, "This Tuesday, [May 2] we will hold the AK Party's weekly group meeting at party headquarters with President Erdoğan, who is the founder and former chairman of our party. During the meeting, we will also start the process for President Erdoğan's membership in the AK Party."
Erdoğan had to resign from the party leadership following his election as president in 2014, as the Constitution stipulated that the president must sever political party affiliations on the grounds of impartiality. However, the recent constitutional amendment package that was accepted by the public in the April 16 referendum allows the president to maintain political party membership.
President Erdoğan recently hinted that he will return to the AK Party as chairman following the announcement of the official referendum results by the Supreme Election Council (YSK). Since the YSK announced the official results on Thursday, there are no restrictions preventing Erdoğan from returning to his party.
On Thursday, sources within the AK Party administration also confirmed that an extraordinary congress is scheduled for May 21, during which President Erdoğan is expected to become the sole candidate for party chairmanship. He will be replacing current AK Party Chairman Binali Yıldırım, who also serves as prime minister. Commenting on the president's return to the AK Party leadership Thursday, the prime minister said: "We [the AK Party] will happily invite our president back to our party. There is no barrier stopping him from becoming the chairman. On the other hand, the first step is to make him a member of our party again."
On May 2, the AK Party's top executive body the Central Executive Committee (MYK) will gather to announce the formal decision on whether to hold an extraordinary congress on May 21 and nominate President Erdoğan as the sole candidate for AK Party chairmanship in the upcoming congress. Along with the chairman, the AK Party's executive body members; primarily comprised of members of the MYK and Central Decision Board (MKYK), are also expected to be reshuffled during the extraordinary congress.
Over 58 million voters participated in the April 16 referendum, in which the "yes" camp garnered 51.4 percent of the votes, while the "no" camp, on the other hand, got 48.6 percent of the votes.