ANKARA: Turkish president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks set to maintain his influence on daily politics after being sworn in next week, with close allies likely to take on Cabinet posts in a new government and his economic team expected to remain largely intact.
Outgoing President Abdullah Gul said Tuesday that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was likely to take over as chairman of the party and become the next prime minister, rekindling speculation about the shape of the new Cabinet.
Davutoglu, an academic who has served as Erdogan’s foreign minister for the past five years, is expected to be confirmed as the ruling AK Party’s nominee for chairman Thursday before being formally voted in at an AK general assembly on Aug. 27.
Senior AK officials told Reuters that ministers responsible for the economy would remain in place under Davutoglu, and that close Erdogan allies including his top aide Yalcin Akdogan and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan might be given Cabinet positions.
Investors have been particularly concerned about the fate of Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, who have guided the Turkish economy toward unprecedented stability in recent years. “The decision will be up to Erdogan and Davutoglu, but in the new Cabinet which is expected to be formed at the beginning of September, no changes are expected with Babacan and Simsek or other economic portfolios,” a senior AK official said.
Erdogan, who co-founded the AK Party and has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade as premier, won the country’s first national presidential election on Aug. 10 with more than 51 percent of the vote.
Senior officials had told Reuters before the vote that economic ministers would be retained at least until a parliamentary election next June if Erdogan won.
Erdogan will step down as leader of the AKP, as required by the constitution, but has made clear that he wants the party he co-founded with Gul more to remain loyal and unified.
“Davutoglu is certainly someone that Erdogan can control, because he doesn’t have his own constituency. Erdogan made him. He’s about the most amenable prime minister that could be chosen,” one European diplomat said.
Davutoglu has overseen Turkish foreign policy at a turbulent time for the Mideast, with wars in neighboring Iraq and Syria and the Arab Spring uprisings, but his “zero problems with the neighbors” policy has crumbled, with relations degraded with Egypt, Syria, Israel, Iraq and Iran.
Senior AK officials said intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, one of Erdogan’s confidantes, and EU Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu were being considered as replacements for Davutoglu as foreign minister.