Former Turkish PM Yıldırım heading for vice president role – press report

One of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s staunchest allies could soon be joining him as a vice president, journalist Başak Kaya reported for secularist daily Sözcü on Monday.

Binali Yıldırım, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who has served as minister and prime minister under Erdoğan, is likely to take a role as a second vice president, Kaya said, citing talk in political circles in Ankara.

Yıldırım most recently served as the parliamentary speaker, but stood down from that position to stand as the AKP’s candidate in the Istanbul mayoral race this year, an election he lost.

Erdoğan is believed to be planning to expand the Vice Presidency and tie it to his cabinet, Kaya reported.

The president had been expected to reshuffle his cabinet to address rising dissent in AKP ranks this year, but the appointment of new vice presidents could be an alternative, she said.

Last week, columnist Abdulkadir Selvi said Erdoğan was planning to appoint three new vice presidents as part of deep rooted changes that could also see several new cabinet appointments.

Under the current executive presidential system inaugurated last year, Erdoğan is accompanied by a single vice president, Fuat Oktay.

Oktay has been conducting research to iron out the system and address concerns with it. A recent survey showed that the majority of Turks are against the system, which did away with the prime minister’s role and granted executive powers to the president, including the power to rule by decree.

It was Yıldırım who became the last prime minister of Turkey in 2016, when his predecessor, Ahmet Davutoğlu, stepped down over conflicts with the president. Yıldırım campaigned to abolish his own position during a constitutional referendum on the executive presidential system in 2017.