Erdoğan may change the third term rule to continue ruling the AKP

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly stated that his party’s bylaw that limits deputies to three consecutive terms in office could be altered if the party administration want him to continue to lead the party, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

According to several Turkish media outlets, Erdoğan spoke to Al Jazeera English’s Jamal Elshayyal on Sunday and said his party is concentrated on the upcoming local elections on March 30 and if party administration see a need for a change in the bylaw that limits deputies to three consecutive terms in office, it will make a decision regarding the issue.

Political experts have recently stated that, fearing that the alleged involvement of several Justice and Development Party (AK Party) ministers in corruption might endanger the party’s future, the AK Party may alter the party bylaw that limits deputies to three consecutive terms in office.

Several media outlets close to the government have said the goal of the ongoing corruption investigation, in which four Cabinet ministers face allegations and two ministers’ sons have been arrested, is to reshape the AK Party by forcing out Prime Minister Erdoğan.

Rumor has it in the corridors of Ankara that if the AK Party, which received 50 percent of the national vote in the 2011 general elections, receives only 40 percent in the local elections to be held in March, Erdoğan, who is expected to run for the presidency in next year’s presidential elections, may abandon his plans and re-nominate incumbent President Abdullah Gül.

In such a scenario, the three-term rule will be an obstacle to Erdoğan’s continued leadership of the AK Party.

Some AK Party officials say the decision to alter the three-term rule will depend on the results of the local elections in March. If Erdoğan, who has so far objected to altering the three-term rule, decides that such a change is necessary, the rule can be changed without the need to convene a party congress.