The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is reportedly planning to modify protocol rankings for the bureaucracy ahead of the local elections in which several former ministers and senior officials will run as municipal candidates.
As Binali Yıldırım, the Parliament speaker who served as the final prime minister, came to the fore as a possible candidate in the Istanbul metropolitan municipality for the March 2019 local elections, it has reignited discussions on protocol rankings once again. Many criticized the rankings for placing appointed posts higher than elected posts.
In a bid to resolve the issue, the AK Party has been coming up with various formulas, including revising all protocols countrywide and amending or completely abolishing welcoming/farewell ceremonies, according to media outlets. Reports suggested on Friday that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was informed about the demands for changes in the protocol rankings and formulas in question.
Following the reports, Mehmet Muş, the vice chair of the AK Party's parliamentary group, underscored that no official statement has been made on the candidacy of Yıldırım by party sources.
Every province has its own protocol ranking. Capital Protocol, which places the Parliament speaker in the first rank, is only used in Ankara. According to Capital Protocol, Ankara's mayor occupies the 42nd ranking after ministers, the governor and certain bureaucrats. In other cities, however, mayors come fourth following the governor, deputies and the garrison commander.
Accordingly, if Yıldırım is elected as Istanbul mayor, he risks losing his primary rank as former Parliament speaker.
Reportedly, AK Party deputies do not find it right placing someone who served as prime minister or speaker of Parliament below deputies, ministers and other low-ranking officials after the person is elected as mayor. In line with this view, a proposal to revise the protocol rankings is expected to be submitted to Parliament.