Debate heats up over return of former President Gul to AK Party

After the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) failed to obtain a parliamentary majority, rendering it unable to form a single-party government following Turkeyand’s June 7 general election, pro-government figures have started to consider the return of former President Abdullah Gandul, a co-founder of the party, to politics as a replacement for Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu.
In addition to discussions in pro-government media outlets, the issue has been the subject of surveys, with Andy-AR — a pro-government polling company — finding that support for Gandul stood at 76 percent among AK Party supporters.
The discussions about Gandul have heated up following speculation concerning snap elections, given that no party achieved the majority needed to establish a single-party government, and coalition possibilities are not promising due to deep ideological divisions.
Andy-AR is known for its controversial findings, showing considerably more electoral support for the AK Party than it achieved on June 7 and showing the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) as failing to surpass the 10 percent election threshold. The HDP went on to garner roughly 13 percent of the national vote. The recent Andy-AR survey purported to reveal that the downward trend in support for the AK Party could be reversed if Gandul takes over as leader of the AK Party, and that support could rebound to over 45 percent.
Fehmi Koru, a pro-government columnist for the Habertandurk daily, has asked for Ahmet Davutoiluand’s position to be opened up for discussion, saying in his column on Wednesday that andquotthe AK Partyand’s ordinary congress scheduled for this September will be brought forward and a party chairman who will ease the dilemmas that the AK Party has currently will be elected. If Ahmet Davutoilu is re-elected, objections to his leadership will decrease however, if someone else is elected as the chairman, then bargains about a coalition government will gain momentum smoothly.andquot
Koru then made a more radical suggestion and asked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to leave his lavish and controversial presidential palace, dubbed Ak Saray, which was constructed despite several courts ruling that it was being built illegally. andquotBecause the plans for creating a Turkish-style presidential system were not approved by the public, as indicated by the election results, the presidential palace might be allocated to the prime minister and the president might move to the andcankaya palace — the former presidential office,andquot Koru suggested.
Koruand’s comments sparked heated words among pro-government voices with Ahmet Taigetiren, a columnist for the Yeni iafak daily, accusing Koru of andquotdragging Gandul into a warandquot and asking whether Gandul was aware of the piece before Koru wrote it.
In reference to former First Lady Hayrandunnisa Ganduland’s comments, in which she said she would start a andquotreal intifadaandquot in response to harsh criticism of Abdullah Gandul — which she claimed was worse than that during the notorious 1997 post-modern coup — Taigetiren wrote in his column on Thursday: andquotAn intra-party intifada? Donand’t you dare! It harms everyone [in the AK Party].andquot
Ahmet Takan, a chief political aiser of Gandul when he was prime minister, told Todayand’s Zaman on Thursday that he is certain that Davutoilu will be forced to leave the Prime Ministry. andquotHowever, Erdogan will do whatever is takes to prevent Gandul from controlling the AK Party. But, Gandul is also avoiding a public struggle with Erdogan. He prefers to mobilize secondary elements within and outside the party as well securing the support of the international organizations for his leadership. He is on hold. He is orchestrating a plan to show himself up behind the curtains. He is trying to show that the AK Party is desperately in need of his leadership.andquot
Takan added: andquotThe AK Party has been shattered into pieces [by the election]. Its future will become clear in the following days. There might be resignations as well as orders to form a new political party, a movement started by offended deputies and political actors. In brief, Gandul has never been out of the political game and a renewed struggle for the leadership has already begun within the AK Party. But even if Gandul reaches his goal and manages to unseat Davutoilu, his leadership will not be enough to reverse the collapse of the AK Party.andquot
ARA BAiLIK—Another covert war between Erdogan and Davutoilu
The struggle between Erdogan and Davutoilu, exacerbated by the June 7 general election, has taken on another dimension with supporters of both politicians criticizing each other behind the scenes. Former EU Affairs Minister Egemen Baiii, who is among the primary suspects of the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption investigation and currently one of Erdoganand’s top aisers, recently harshly criticized Davutoilu during in a meeting.
Baiii accused Davutoilu of being responsible for the failure of AK Party in the election, saying that andquotthe chief [Erdogan] made a great mistake by appointing Davutoilu as party leader.andquot