News / Europe

Political Stakes Are High for Turkey's Erdogan

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (L) receives Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace of Cankaya in Ankara, June 14, 2011
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (L) receives Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace of Cankaya in Ankara, June 14, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

Sunday's general election in Turkey resulted in a resounding victory for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AK. But the victory was bittersweet for the prime minister and his party as they fell well short of a two-thirds majority that would enable them to rewrite the nation's constitution.

Justice and Development Party supporters are celebrating their party's win. And the prime minister dropped his usual combative rhetoric to reach out to voters.

Erdogan said the people gave a message to build the new constitution through consensus and negotiation. That task, however, may not be so easy for Erdogan. He was hoping to win a two-thirds majority of seats in parliament, but now needs a referendum to do so.

According to Sinan Ulgen of the political research firm Edam, the result has dealt a major blow to Erdogan's ambitions, namely his desire to take on the role of president.

"The prime minister had made clear his desire to introduce a U.S.- or French-style presidential system," said Ulgen. "He views the introduction of a presidential system as way to concentrate even more executive power. With this distribution of seats, it's clearly very, very difficult to move forward on that."

The current office of the president in Turkey is largely ceremonial. Erdogan’s desire is to push ahead with plans to rewrite the constitution with an enhanced role for the presidency and a diminished role for the military.

But the main opposition People's Republican Party, or CHP, and some senior members within the prime minister's own party claim a more powerful presidency would subjugate parliament.

Political scientist Nuray Mert said Erdogan's personal ambition may cost the country, especially on the issue of Kurdish rights.

"It will not promise anything to Kurds," said Mert. "No more liberties; no more rights; no recognition of Kurdish demands. That's why there is this big disappointment."

Supporters of the country's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, the BDP, had reason to celebrate this week. The party increased its representation in parliament from 20 to 36, taking seats away from Erdogan's party.

The BDP is seeking greater Kurdish rights, including more autonomy and education in the Kurdish language. If Erdogan chooses to meet those demands as part of a more liberal constitution, he may find a willing partner with the People's Republican Party.

Ulgen of the political research firm Edam explains. "The new leader has adopted a much more liberal approach and therefore going forward, AKP may find a much more constructive counterpart in the Turkish parliament, in order to enact needed constitutional amendments."

Observers say Erdogan's abrasive style, while popular with much of the Turkish electorate, does not lend itself to consensus-building. In fact, his previous effort to introduce a new constitution broke down because of his caustic approach.

But being short of seats needed to submit a new constitution to a referendum, political scientist Cengiz Aktar said Erdogan may opt to pursue his presidential goals, and limited reforms aimed at pacifying nationalist voters.  

"He may say, 'I have the majority, I continue to rule according to my views and vision for this country.' In that case, a modern liberal constitution in Turkey won't solve the Kurdish conflict," said Aktar. "As long as the country can't solve its Kurdish conflict, anything can happen. All stakes are open, and [there are] big, big question marks for Turkey. This is the price to pay."

On election day, the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984, warned it will intensify its operations if the new government does not immediately take steps to address its demands. The pro-Kurdish BDP also has warned of major civil unrest. Turkey is at a crossroads, and the prime minister appears to have little time to decide which route to take.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid