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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.