Turkey’s ruling AK Party said it’s nominating Recep Tayyip Erdogan to become the country’s next president, as he seeks to retain power after more than a decade-long rule as prime minister.
Speaking in a televised address in Ankara after his nomination, Erdogan said he will unite the country under his presidency and seek a new constitution that may expand the powers of the largely ceremonial post. Erdogan has often expressed his desire to transform the parliamentary system to a more presidential one.
“If I am elected on Aug. 10, I won’t be the president of one section but the president of everyone,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan, 60, will run against two opposition candidates. He has said he would transform the largely ceremonial presidency into a powerful post.
Should Erdogan win, his party will need to reorganize itself after 12 years in power and select a new premier. Incumbent President Abdullah Gul has not ruled out a possible power swap with Erdogan.
Although there are no term limits on the prime minister’s office under the constitution, Erdogan is required to step down after completing his current and third term in office according to a self-imposed party rule. Enjoying strong electoral support, he hopes to become the first president elected in a popular vote in August.
An Erdogan victory is likely and may lead to concerns about Turkey’s direction, said Timothy Ash, chief economist for emerging markets at Standard Bank Group Ltd. in London.
“Over the longer term there will be concern at the over-centralization of power around Erdogan, and perhaps a perception that Turkey’s development model maybe changing,” and moving away from a European Union-oriented, democratic model said Ash.
Erdogan’s party won local elections on March 30. His success in the August presidential vote “is almost a certainty,” strategist Isik Okte of BNP Paribas’s Turkish unit TEB Investment said in an e-mailed note.
Erdogan has been criticized for his crackdown on millions of Turks who took to the streets last year protesting what they said was his authoritarian style, croneyism, and Islamist agenda.
Today Erdogan vowed to continue targeting the supporters of a U.S.-based cleric whom he accuses of instigating a graft probe to try to topple his government in December, saying he will eradicate a “dirty structure” and “parallel state” in Turkey.
The premier has purged thousands of policemen and judicial officials in recent months and also blocked access to YouTube in late March for 67 days after alleged wiretapping records from the graft probe were posted on the video-sharing site. The government also temporarily blocked access to Twitter on similar grounds.
On news of the announcement of Erdogan’s nomination, the Turkish lira reversed gains to trade 0.3 percent lower at 2.1238 per dollar at 2:22 p.m. in Istanbul. The yield on Turkey’s two-year lira notes rose six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 8.21 percent.
Erdogan “will bring to the office his own style of aggressively defiant government, typified by micro-management, bullying of opponents and a penchant for polarization rather than conciliation,” said Wolfango Piccoli, managing director at Teneo Intelligence in London, in an e-mailed note today.