Leadership Change in Turkish Politics: A Brief Overview

A New Era in Turkey under Binali Yıldırım

Leadership Change in Turkish Politics: A Brief Overview

Mehmet Ali Debre


Last week Binali Yıldırım has sworn in as the Prime Minister of Turkey.  During Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s majorship between 1994 and 1999 Yıldırım had served as the head of department of transportation of Istanbul. He had developed a new infrastructure for transportation in Istanbul and made serious investment in sea-bus. Yıldırım continued his political career with Erdogan and took part in the foundation of AKP in 2001. He was selected MP in the 2002 elections and appointed as the Minister of Transportation and Communication. Between 2002 and 2013 Yıldırım stayed in the same office, one of the longest reigns in a ministerial position in the history of modern Turkey. He led a dramatic transformation in transportation with the construction of new motorways, airports and railways, which the AKP leadership felt proud of. During election speeches Erdogan often reminded their success in building new motorways and airports even in distant towns of Anatolia. Likewise Turkey has made a serious investment in Internet and digital infrastructure, competing with the Western European countries in Internet speed and availability of digital services. These achievements and his loyalty to Erdogan elevated Yıldırım to one of the strong candidates to become Prime Minister after Erdogan’s rise to the Presidency.


Once elected as the President of Republic Erdoğan opted to work with Ahmet Davutoğlu as his Prime Minister. Davutoglu had served as adviser to Erdogan and then became Minister of Foreign Affairs. Yıldırım did not take place in Davutoglu’s first cabinet because of the fact that the party regulations allowed the AKP members to stay as MP for three successive terms at most. During this period Yıldırım run for the mayorship for Izmir but lost the election against the ongoing mayor. After this defeat he started to serve as head advisor to the President Erdogan. In November 2016 elections Yıldırım was elected again as MP and appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister. There were rumours about Erdogan’s discontent with Davutoglu’s leadership style; Erdogan was understandably insistent that the party and other ministers should stay under his control, underscoring his election process. He was elected with popular vote and claimed to be in a different position than previous Presidents, who had been elected by the Parliament. On the other hand Davutoglu led the party to an electoral victory with %49.5 votes and wanted to assert more power in statecraft. In May 2016 Erdogan decided to part his ways with Davutoglu and asked for his resignation. After a few weeks of uncertainty Yıldırım was declared to be the new Chairman of the AKP and Prime Minister of Turkey.


Yıldırım has long worked with Erdogan and proved to a reliable partner. His technocrat style is something Erdogan would direly need. It is likely that he will finalize new projects in transportation, housing and other infrastructure services. It is also almost certain that the AKP government will implement Erdogan’s vision in economics, foreign policy and domestic affairs. Yet there are still fundamental issues that Erdogan and the AKP avoid to tackle, with no convincing long-term vision of reforming the country’s education, culture and constitutional problems. The choice of bureaucratic and ministerial positions for the new cabinet reveal that the AKP leadership, despite adverse political rhetoric, is content with the status-que.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Haziran 2016, 20:58