Turkey’s Erdoğan to appoint three new vice presidents in reshuffle - columnist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is preparing an extensive cabinet reshuffle that is likely to include appointing three new vice presidents for whom armoured Mercedes vehicles have already been purchased from Germany, Abdülkadir Selvi, a columnist known for his sources close to the ruling party, wrote on Wednesday.

The poor performance of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in March local elections and an economic downturn have fuelled speculation of a cabinet reshuffle. The changes had been expected to be announced after a meeting of the ruling party executive committee on Wednesday.

But Erdoğan is looking to make broader changes that are not likely to come about right away, Selvi wrote in his column for the Hürriyet newspaper.

It is virtually accepted that former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım will become one of a total of four vice presidents and be responsible for investment, the columnist said. 

“It is expected that there will be change in the council of ministers in a not so distant period of time. In the beginning, there was the expectation that a few ministerial changes would suffice. However, this is changing. The arrow is pointing to deep-rooted change,” Selvi wrote.

The president is meanwhile trying to be more inclusive, beginning with a meeting with opposition mayors at the Presidential Palace this month, the article said. 

Erdoğan met the mayors of Turkey’s 26 metropolitan municipalities in Ankara on Sept. 11. Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayors of Istanbul and Ankara, were present at the meeting where the president stressed the need for political cooperation.

The meeting with mayors, irrespective of their political affiliation, went down well with the public, Selvi said.

Erdoğan then met privately with the leader of the Islamist opposition Felicity Party, Temel Karamollaoğlu, who later said the president had been “different from before”. 

Selvi also suggested Erdoğan may be looking to meet the Saturday Mothers, a group who have been protesting political assassinations and disappearances since the 1980s, and another group of women who have been protesting for weeks what they say is the abduction of their children to fight for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

"Could Erdoğan bring these groups together at the Presidential Palace as part of his new inclusive politics?" Selvi asked.