News / Europe

Turkish President Rules Out Role Swap with Erdogan

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (L) and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (C) arrive at the opening ceremony of a new line of the Ankara Metro, in Ankara, Feb. 12, 2014.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul (L) and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (C) arrive at the opening ceremony of a new line of the Ankara Metro, in Ankara, Feb. 12, 2014.
Reuters
Turkey's president appeared to rule out a job swap with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan when his term as head of state ends in a few months, signaling strains between the allies following months of political tension.
 
President Abdullah Gul's comments on Friday threw open the question of who might succeed Erdogan if he runs for president in an August election as expected, and raised the prospect of him picking a close loyalist to cement his grip on power.
 
The president has until now been chosen by parliament and played a largely ceremonial role, but August's election will be the first direct vote for the post. Erdogan has said that will give the presidency more authority, and has vowed to exercise its full powers if elected.
 
Gul co-founded the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party with Erdogan and had been seen as a potential future prime minister should Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, become head of state.
 
A more conciliatory figure than the prime minister, Gul has been seen as a check on Erdogan's authoritarian impulses, although their relations have grown increasingly strained.
 
“I don't have any political plan for the future under today's conditions,” Gul told reporters in the western province of Kutahya, when asked about the presidential election.
 
Asked if a “Putin-Medvedev model” was conceivable, Gul said such a formula would not be “appropriate” for a democracy but did not elaborate.
 
Russia's current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev replaced Vladimir Putin as president in 2008, while Putin became prime minister. They swapped roles in 2012.
 
Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers he had not heard Gul's words and would not comment before speaking with him.
 
Strains
 
A majority of deputies in the AK Party voted in a secret ballot on Wednesday in favor of an Erdogan presidential bid.
 
Senior party officials have said Gul would be highly unlikely to try to run against him, a possibility the president also seemed to rule out on Friday.
 
But Erdogan, who has failed to push through the constitutional changes he wanted to create an executive presidency in Turkey, could also seek a fourth term as prime minister if the AK Party changed its internal rules on three-term limits. Gul could then remain as president.
 
“If Erdogan doesn't give up on going [for the presidency], Gul won't go against him. But not going against him doesn't mean he would let himself be crushed politically,” said Eyup Can, editor of the liberal daily Radikal.
 
“Gul is not saying farewell to politics. On the contrary, he is conducting 'hardcore politics',” he said, seeing Gul's words as a warning to Erdogan not to force his presidential ambitions.
 
While Erdogan and Gul have been close allies during their political careers, they have appeared to fall out on occasions.
 
Last month, Gul openly contradicted the prime minister by dismissing suggestions that outside forces were conspiring against Turkey in a corruption scandal which has shaken Erdogan's government since last December.
 
Gul was also at odds with Erdogan over bans on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube , after the premier suggested they should be shut to stop a stream of leaked recordings fuelling the scandal.
 
Twitter was blocked by the authorities for two weeks, while access to YouTube remains blocked.
 
Executive ambitions

 
Erdogan had long wanted to change the constitution and create an executive presidency, but political opposition to such a move has checked those plans for now.
 
Gul's absence could pave the way for a more malleable figure to assume the post of prime minister should Erdogan win the presidency, enabling him to shift the balance of power towards the head of state even without a full presidential system.
 
AK Party Deputy Chairman Mehmet Ali Sahin, seen as staunch Erdogan loyalist and a fellow party founder, has been mooted as the most likely candidate.
 
In the longer term, Erdogan looks unlikely to abandon his ambition to create a full presidential system.
 
He confirmed on Friday that the AK Party is preparing a draft law to change the nationwide electoral system, a move which could increase its majority in parliament and make it easier to drive through constitutional changes.
 
Senior AK Party officials said the proposed system would eliminate the current 10 percent threshold of votes needed for a party to enter parliament, among the highest in the world, and redefine electoral boundaries.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs