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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid