AKP Names Binali Yıldırım As Leadership, PM Candidate

bbbbTurkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officially named Transportation and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım as its candidate for the party chair position on May 19.

AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik announced Yıldırım as the candidate after a meeting of the party’s central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK).

“I’d like to thank Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who took over this post from the founding leader of the party,” Yıldırım said in his speech after the anouncement of his appointment.

Yıldırım is considered to be one of the closest aides of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, seen as the power behind the throne of the party.

The AKP’s new leader will be elected at an extraordinary party convention on May 22 in Ankara.

As one of the founders of the party, Yıldırım served as transport minister until he left the post in 2014 due to his candidacy for the İzmir mayorship in the local elections. After failing in that race he was also not listed in the AKP’s deputy candidate list for the June 2015 election due to the party’s internal three-term limit.

During this period he served as an advisor to President Erdoğan, before entering parliament again in the Nov. 1, 2015 election after the limit was lifted.

It is believed that only one candidate will run for the AKP chairmanship at the convention, as was the case in previous party conventions.

In addition to electing a new chairman, the convention will also renew all top decision-making bodies of the party, including its disciplinary board, in order to reflect the AKP’s push to shift Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system of governance.

Earlier this week AKP executives conducted a two-day intra-party survey to identify the top candidate to become the new leader.

After Davutoğlu’s formal resignation from his post, Erdoğan will give the mandate to his successor in the AKP to form Turkey’s next cabinet.

Davutoğlu was elected as AKP chairman in late August 2014 after Erdoğan was elected president. He announced his resignation on May 5 amid rumors of a series of disagreements with the president.