Turkey Cabinet Overhaul Coming as Erdogan Eyes Party ReturnFirat Kozok, Riad Hamade and Benjamin Harvey
‘Fresh blood’ needed in government from time to time: premier
Yildirim plans consulations with president in coming months
Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said he’ll discuss an overhaul of the cabinet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in coming months, signaling changes in key posts after a radical constitutional reform was approved on April 16.
“It wouldn’t be right for me to speak about names, about who’ll come and who’ll go,” Yildirim told Bloomberg in an interview at Cankaya Palace in Ankara on Monday. “From time to time, injecting fresh blood in the cabinet is a necessity of democracy.”
Yildirim’s comments mark the first confirmation of plans to change the line-up of senior policy makers after Turks voted to hand executive power to Erdogan, a move that will lead to the elimination of the prime minister’s office by 2019. The referendum also paved the way for Erdogan to rejoin the governing Justice and Development Party, which Yildirim currently leads, and formally move into the driver’s seat of the Middle East’s largest economy.
The constitutional referendum left many investors wondering about the future direction of economic policy under Erdogan, who’s adamant that Turkey should prioritize lowering interest rates to spur economic activity despite rampant inflation.
Members of an economic policy team favored by investors and credited with driving years of rapid growth have been dropped from Turkey’s cabinet in recent years. Erdogan has also employed a host of economic advisers who shun conventional approaches to economic management and advocate for a “new economic paradigm” based on lower interest rates to fuel investment, production and employment.
For more on the transformation of Turkey’s economic policy team, read: Economic A-Team Down to Last Man as Erdogan Exerts His Power
Erdogan’s return to the governing party, also known by its Turkish initials AKP, was enabled by a clause in the April 16 package that revokes the constitutional requirement of impartiality for the head of state. Once the official referendum result is announced in the Official Gazette, expected before the end of this month, Erdogan “can be a member right away,” Yildirim said.
“We will happily invite our president to our party” and “there’s also no barrier to him becoming chairman,” said Yildirim, the premier and current party chairman. He said there’s no rush to enact all of the constitutional amendments though, which would require bringing elections forward from their scheduled date in November 2019.
“On principle, we don’t like early elections, because early elections bring uncertainty,” he said. “And there’s nothing right now that would move us to early elections.”
Yildirim’s invitation for Erdogan to become party chair at any time resolves confusion about the timeline following the April 16 vote. Yildirim, who came to power in an extraordinary congress after his predecessor was forced to resign amid a power struggle with Erdogan, had said earlier that the president would rejoin AKP very soon, but that the party congress to elect a new leader wouldn’t be held until 2019.
“The first step is to make our president a member of our party again,” Yildirim said. “I never said before that we wouldn’t have an extraordinary congress.”