By Humeyra Pamuk
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said he would run for the presidency in elections due next year if asked to do so by his party.
Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for a decade, cannot run again as prime minister in a general election in 2015 according to the rules of his AK Party. He has long been expected to stand for a new executive presidency, although his plans to establish such an enhanced role have stalled.
“I have not made such a decision for sure yet. If I had made such a decision for sure, I would announce it,” Erdogan said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber late on Thursday.
“We have a system and this system is based on consultation. The most important piece of this consultation at this moment is my party. Whatever duty my party burdens me with, whatever it wishes of me, I will endeavour to do it.”
With less than a year to Turkey’s first popular presidential election, speculation has been mounting over what role Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, who occupies the current largely ceremonial post, will play.
The two were founding members of the AK Party in 2001 and are longtime allies. But their relations have appeared at times strained over the last year, not least over a police crackdown on anti-government demonstrations this summer.
What happens at the ballot box next year will also depend on whether Erdogan is able to push through a new constitution including provisions for an executive presidency, a move seen as less and less likely as the election cycle nears.
Efforts to draft a new charter have all but stalled due to disagreements among the main four political parties, especially over the question of a more powerful presidency.