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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.