Following the Supreme Election Council's (YSK) announcement of the official referendum results from the April 16 constitutional amendment package, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has begun the process of inducting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into the party, and he is expected to make his membership official today.
As a result, an era of reshuffling and restructuring is expected to begin within the party before the 2019 municipal and presidential elections. Ahead of Erdoğan's return, the AK Party's top executive body, the Central Executive Committee (MYK), gathered yesterday at the party's headquarters in Ankara to formally decide to hold an extraordinary congress to nominate President Erdoğan as the sole candidate for AK Party chairmanship. Furthermore, in the three-hour meeting, followed by a Central Decision Board (MKYK) meeting, the results from the April 16 referendum were discussed in detail, but the main topic of both meetings was the third extraordinary meeting, which was officially set in an announcement yesterday for May 21. Speaking yesterday at a press conference in Ankara after the MKYK meeting, AK Party spokesman Yasin Aktay stated that although it is not going to be his "traditional balcony speech," President Erdoğan is expected to address his party members today after the ceremony. Aktay also added that Erdoğan's membership to the party was approved by a majority of votes during the meeting.
Erdoğan is to replace the current AK Party Chairman, Binali Yıldırım, who also serves as prime minister. Yıldırım previously commented on the president's return to AK Party leadership, saying: "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." Along with the chairman, the AK Party's executive body members, namely of the MYK and the MKYK, are also expected to be reshuffled at the extraordinary congress scheduled for May 21.
The AK Party has traditionally made intra-party consultation a developing strategy for the growth of the party, including field research among voters and the party's local organizations, which after the recent referendum are also expected to evolve. Commenting on the possibility of changes, Fahrettin Altun, a columnist with the Turkish daily Sabah, and Istanbul coordinator for the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) previously said, "The April 16 referendum, first of all, has turned a new leaf in Turkish politics."
Altun noted that Erdoğan's return "will lead to a period of reforms within the party," and he also said: "In the new period, we expect that the party will embrace President Erdoğan as the leader in charge. This will also mean a change in the party's organizational structure. In addition, it will bring a more coherent atmosphere and dynamism to the party. However, we should not expect radical changes."Similarly, Nebi Miş, the policy director of the SETA Foundation, wrote in his column in Türkiye daily last week that: "As soon as Erdoğan returns, the party's 15 years will be assessed, while the short-term preparation process for the 2019 presidential elections will begin. A road map will also be prepared toward the AK Party's future in an effort to reach its long-term 2023 goals in line with the administration of the presidential governing system." Erdoğan has referred to the AK Party as his "fifth child."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yıldırım is to hold the weekly group meeting, usually held in Parliament, at the party's headquarters. Following the meeting today, an official ceremony will be held for Erdoğan's AK Party membership. With his arrival scheduled for this afternoon, President Erdoğan is expected to give his traditional balcony speech to party members waiting outside, according to sources close to the AK Party. In addition, President's Erdoğan's office on the eighth floor, where he is expected to welcome visitors offering their congratulations, has already been prepared.
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