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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More