Erdogan preparing to replace Davutoglu
Orhan Coskun, Ercan Gurses, Ayla Jean Yackley, Nick Tattersall, Reuters, May 4 2016
ANKARA – Turkey’s ruling party is set to replace PM Davutoglu at an extraordinary congress in the coming weeks, no fewer than five AK boxtops confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday, signalling the end of his term as premier and plunging the country into further political uncertainty. The decision came after a meeting of more than 90 mins between Davutoglu and Erdogan that followed weeks of increasingly public tension between the two. Erdogan wants an executive presidency in Turkey to replace the current parliamentary system, a plan for which Davutoglu has offered only lukewarm support. His departure is likely to pave the way for a successor more willing to back Erdogan’s ambition of changing the constitution and strengthening the presidency, a move which obviously will herald growing authoritarianism. One of the officials told Reuters:
The president and prime minister reached agreement on the congress. I don’t think Davutoglu will be a candidate again.
Erdogan already serves as prime minister in practice. The lira weakened more than 4% against the dollar, its weakest since the end of February. Wolfango Piccoli of Teneo Intelligence (whatever the hell that is – RB), said:
Davutoglu’s likely early exit as party leader and PM constitutes another episode that show that Erdogan’s dominance over the AKP and the executive is absolute and unchallenged. In the short term, policy paralysis will prevail, and then once a new party leader is elected, a more incisive effort to amend the constitution could ensue.
The AKP boxtop said the congress would be held between May 21 and Jun 6, the first day of Ramadan, and that Erdogan was adamant there should be no vacuum of power at the head of government. Three sources close to the presidency said possible successors included govt spox Kurtulmus and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag. Transport Minister Binali Yildirim and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak (Erdogan’s son-in-law) have also been touted as possibles. Erdogan’s drive to tighten his grip on power has caused an increasingly open rift with Davutoglu. Erdogan wants a robust presidential system as a guarantee against the fractious coalition politics that hampered Turkey in the 1990s. His opponents see a stronger presidency as a vehicle for his own ambition. Such a system would have seen Davutoglu, a more mild-mannered academic and former diplomat who lacks Erdogan’s natural appeal to crowds, sidelined. The two have governed in a strained alliance since Erdogan won the presidency in 2014 and Davutoglu replaced him as prime minister. Aides to Davutoglu had largely dismissed the tensions as matters of style rather than substance. But in the clearest sign yet of a power struggle, the authority to appoint candidates to provincial AKP posts was taken from Davutoglu last week. The move reduced Davutoglu’s hold over the party grass-roots and cemented Erdogan’s influence. The two leaders have appeared at odds over the deal with the EU, Davutoglu’s project, and its future may be less certain after his departure. Erdogan has at times appeared to belittle Davutoglu’s progress. Erdogan said recently about the much-prized visa-free entry to the EU:
During my time as prime minister it was announced it would come in Oct 2016. I don’t understand why bringing it forward four months is presented as a win. I’m saddened by the presentation of small things in a bigger light.
Former diplomat and political commentator Sinan Ulgen of the EDAM
think-tank whatever in Istanbul said:
(The two have always faced a) fundamental dilemma. Erdogan’s end goal is to consolidate enough popular support to switch to a presidential system. Davutoglu’s end goal is to consolidate his own power and be a successful prime minister.