President Erdogan readies to retake reins of ruling party

President Erdogan readies to retake reins of ruling party
Turkey's government is preparing to make constitutional changes which would allow President Tayyip Recep Erdogan to rejoin the ruling AKP party.
2 min read
19 April, 2017
Erdogan will be given sweeping new powers following Sunday's referendum [AFP]
Turkey's government said on Wednesday it will allow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rejoin the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), marking the first major constitutional change since Sunday's controversial referendum result.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Erdogan would be allowed to join the AKP once the official result of Sunday's referendum are announced, a vote which the government won by a wafer thin margin.

"When the high electoral board announce the official results our president will be able to return to the party," Yildirim said, according to Reuters.

However, the prime minister said Erdogan will likely not take over the party until the AKP's congress next year. The president was expected to become leader of the ruling Islamist party almost immediately. 

As head of the country, Erdogan is not allowed to be part of any political party, but he has remained close to the AKP which he led to victory in 2002, and helped to power ever since.

On Sunday, the government narrowly won the referendum granting it sweeping new powers and introduces drastic changes to Turkey's political structure and constitution.

Erdogan said the changes would be implemented gradually, but the result was final and will not be altered.

Rival parties have contested the result citing election irregularities, while a European monitoring group also voiced concerns about the fairness of voting.

Among the concerns from the opposition are that unstamped voting papers were counted, which might have tipped the result of the referendum in the government's favour.

"This referendum will forever remain controversial," warned Mithat Sancar, deputy chairman of the Peoples' Democratic Party.

"You cannot build a change in the political system on such a controversial and unfair referendum."

Critics also say that the amendments will grant Erdogan authoritarian powers and seriously weaken opposition to the government.

Ankara says the changes are essential to allow for a stronger democratically-elected state, and curb the ability of the army to intervene in the political process.