News / Europe

Rifts Emerge Between Turkey's PM and President

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (C) is applauded by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (R) and his ministers as he arrives to address the Turkish Parliament during a debate marking the reconvene of the parliament after a summer recess in Ankara, Oct. 1, 2013.
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (C) is applauded by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (R) and his ministers as he arrives to address the Turkish Parliament during a debate marking the reconvene of the parliament after a summer recess in Ankara, Oct. 1, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Divisions between Turkey's President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan re-emerged last week with the president’s address at the opening session of the Turkish parliament. In the speech, which came just a day after Erdogan unveiled a democratic reform package, Gul praised anti-government protests and pleaded for a greater participatory democracy. The reappearance of differences between the formerly close political allies comes ahead of next year’s presidential election, in which neither man has ruled out running.
 
In his address to Turkey's parliament, Gul praised last June's anti-government protests - which Erdogan had called a conspiracy against his government, saying they were an important sign of participatory democracy. In another thinly veiled attack on the government, Gul stressed the importance of a free press. According to human rights groups, Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists.

Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, said Gul's speech indicates a growing rift between the once close allies.

"We have seen clear difference in the rhetoric of the prime minister and the president, and there is increasing speculation in Turkey, the question being at any point, they can challenge each other for the presidency," said Ulgen.

Growing independence

Gul is eligible to run again in next year’s presidential election, but thus far he has not made his intentions clear, other than to say that after his current term ends, he will remain at the service of his country. Erdogan, in his clearest signal yet, said last week he would consider running for president if his party wants him to.

Until recently, observers were predicting that if Erdogan ascended to the presidency, he would choose Gul as his prime minister. But Kadri Gursel, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, suggests Gul's increasingly independent stance makes this is unlikely.
 
"Mr. Erdogan wants a prime minister that will be absolutely loyal to him, ready to work as his technician, not as a political actor who has a different agenda or who has a different rhetoric, that has an independent position or posture," said Gursel.

At the same time, Yuksel Tasgin, an assistant professor of politics at Istanbul's Marmara University, questions whether Gul can successfully distance himself from Erdogan.

"He has given his consent to every major issue of [the] AKP - that’s why he could not create an autonomous power base in the presidency. I believe he is very late to try to assert his power or try to assert his indispensability for the system," said Tasgin.

Political aspirations

The current presidency has limited powers, and Erdogan has been hoping to turn Turkey into a presidential system. With all the parliamentary opposition parties opposing such a move, thereby denying him the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to make such a change, however, those hopes now appear dashed.

Still, analysts point out that Erdogan remains a political giant within his ruling AK Party, and is a formidable campaigner. Political columnist Gursel said such factors, along with Gul's reluctance to confront Erdogan directly, make it unlikely that Gul would run against Erdogan for the presidency.

But Gursel said Gul’s moderate rhetoric is an indication that he remains interested in retaining political power.
 
"He will never challenge openly Mr. Erdogan. If Erdogan falls, if some troublesome developments will weaken Erdogan’s power, this web of rhetoric, which also sounds good for the Western ears, will help Gul to be taken as the natural alternative to Erdogan," said Gursel.

While Erdogan is famed for his campaigning skills, Gul is equally renowned for his tactical abilities. While opinion polls show the prime minister remains by far the most popular politician in Turkey, the same polls also reveal he is a deeply polarizing political figure. Should this polarization deepen, analysts say, it will be to the benefit of Gul’s political aspirations.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid