The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) welcomed its longest-serving chairman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, back to his post on Sunday with an emergency congress today to mark the beginning of a new era for the party and the whole country.
President Erdoğan has been re-elected as the new chairman of the AK Party at the third emergency congress ever held in the history of the 16-year-old party with 1414 votes of the party delegates.
Erdoğan entered the congress hall as tens of thousands gathered to celebrate his return to the party he founded 16 years ago.
Before entering the hall, Erdoğan addressed thousands who could not make it inside, and said "I wholeheartedly greet all of you after 998 days. We are together again."
In his speech, President Erdoğan said that the party will undergo a reform process in the near future, and will include more young members between ages 18 and 25.
"We are together again after 3 years, making a new start to work harder on bigger goals," he said.
President Erdoğan also said that the country's ongoing state of emergency will not be lifted until Turkey achieves peace and welfare.
Erdoğan cited the casualties from last July's coup attempt by the Gülenist terror group (FETÖ).
"They tried to overthrow the state, 249 civilians died and 2,193 were injured," the President said, underlining that the state of emergency needs to continue under current circumstances.
Erdoğan also said that in spite of all the recent problems with the European Union, he would prefer to continue the dialogue with the bloc as long as the bloc keeps its promises about the migrant agreement.
The president's return to the post of chairman will reshape the party organization.
The slogan adopted by the ruling party for the congress is "Democracy, Transformation, Reform."
There are already talks about a shake-up within the AK Party's top decision-making bodies, the Central Executive Board (MYK) and Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK).
Having taken the chairmanship back, Erdoğan will now make decisions regarding local administrations as well.
Local administrators and party officials have been criticized in the run-up to the April 16 referendum for their lack of enthusiasm and dynamism.
Erol Kaya, deputy AK Party chairman responsible for local administrations, told Daily Sabah that Erdoğan's takeover is "exciting" for the entire party.
"His taking over will bring a different type of enthusiasm and motivation to the party and local administrations," Kaya said.
The deputy chairman underlined that municipalities will be in much better form in the wake of Erdoğan's return. "A total of 879 of the 1,397 municipalities are run by the AK Party. His return will be an overwhelming motivation for local municipalities."
AK Party group deputy Chairman Bülent Turan voiced his hope for a better and stronger future after the transformation period. Calling Erdoğan's return the rebirth of the AK Party, Turan said that his natural leadership will become formal on Sunday.
Hinting at the transformation period after May 21, the group deputy chairman said: "The slogan of our congress is 'Democracy, Transformation and Reform.' We, as the AK Party, will enter the 2019 [elections] with a strong leader, party administration and government under the leadership of our president."
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