ANKARA (Reuters) - Close allies of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan featured in the ruling AK Party’s list of candidates for a June parliamentary election, announced on Tuesday, bolstering his hopes of cementing support for stronger presidential powers.
Fewer than half of the AKP’s current 312 deputies were on the list, meaning the party that has dominated Turkish politics for almost a decade and a half will see sweeping changes after the June vote.
Erdogan’s son-in-law, his former interior minister, and two of his advisers were on the list submitted to the electoral authorities, as was an adviser to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and the former head of the Istanbul stock exchange.
Erdogan, who founded the AKP, handed the party reins to Davutoglu last August after becoming head of state. But he continues to hold sway despite a constitutional requirement that he stay out of party politics.
“Most of us began politics with him,” AKP deputy leader Mustafa Sentop said, when asked if Erdogan had been involved in picking the names.
“Was there intervention in this framework? In a broad sense, one could say yes, but not in the sense of looking at the list and analysing it,” Sentop told reporters.
Opposition parties also submitted their candidate lists on Tuesday. The pro-Kurdish HDP included a cousin of jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan and an AKP co-founder. Almost half the people on the list were women.
The nationalist MHP included former central bank governor Durmus Yilmaz and former presidential contender Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.
The main opposition CHP included former party chairman Deniz Baykal, as well as a prominent journalist and a former general both once jailed in coup plot trials.
Erdogan wants a large AKP majority in June, which would allow the government more easily to introduce the presidential system he wants for Turkey.
His involvement in government affairs has annoyed some senior ministers in recent weeks and, opponents say, infringed on the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc last month criticised Erdogan for his meddling in the government’s handling of a peace process with Kurdish militants.
Davutoglu appeared at odds with Erdogan in February when he backed a bid by intelligence chief Hakan Fidan to run for parliament. Fidan withdrew his candidacy after Erdogan objected.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Monday denied that Erdogan had been working on his own list, but added: “naturally our president will follow the election process very closely”.
Additional reporting by Gulsen Solaker in Ankara and Asli Kandemir in Istanbul; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Robin Pomeroy