Another 7 years to go for PM .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ANKARA - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan last week started a fresh debate about the length of his political career and said that he would leave his position as chairman of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in the event of being the second party in the upcoming local elections. However, none of his political rivals took Erdoğan’s challenge seriously and promised the same attitude in case of failure in the elections.

No doubt, Erdoğan will continue his political march after the elections, if his AKP continues to be the first party. But the AKP has rules that limit the length of chairmanship of the party. Erdoğan, who has been presiding over the AKP for the last seven years, can continue his position only another seven years. Therefore he will be obliged to leave his post in 2015, if, of course, he does not decide to leave it earlier.

When established in 2001, the founders of the AKP put an important clause into the internal regulation document, limiting the length of party leadership to four consecutive terms at most. The objective was not only to stress "democratic rules in the party," but also to prevent "life-time leadership," something Erdoğan himself suffered from too. The natural leader of the political Islam in Turkey, Necmettin Erbakan, led the movement for nearly four decades and blocked many other young potential leaders of the National View, like Erdoğan and current President Abdullah Gül.

Erdoğan was chosen as the AKP’s founder leader on Aug. 14, 2001 by the Founders’ Board. Later, he was elected as the leader of the party in the first and second congress. In case of no amendment in the legislation, Erdoğan has two terms left to be able to serve as the leader. After two terms, he will have to leave his leadership post to another AKP member.

AKP’s third congress is expected to be held in Autumn 2009. If he stands as a candidate in the congress, he will be elected as the leader for the third time. Fourth congress, the last one where Erdoğan will be able to run as a candidate, will be held in 2012. Consequently, Erdoğan will be able to carry out leadership of his party until 2015.

Pro-Kurdish party opening up to Turks
As local elections approach, the political parties have started to introduce new faces and policies. The CHP accepted the membership of women in black chadors, whereas the MHP gave a very warm signal to the Alevis, and the AKP opened its doors to secular and modern women.

The Democratic Society Party, or DTP, is readying for a new initiative as well. As a political party composed of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin, its policy is mainly based on pursuing the rights of Kurds in east and southeast Anatolia. However, nowadays, a new project of "opening to Turks" is being built in a move to target the votes of different segments of society before local elections next March. The architect of the project is Ahmet Türk, leader of the DTP.