News / Middle East

Turkey's PM, President Maneuver for Power

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (May 21, 2012).Turkish President Abdullah Gul (May 21, 2012).
x
Turkish President Abdullah Gul (May 21, 2012).
Turkish President Abdullah Gul (May 21, 2012).
Dorian Jones
Turkey appears to be witnessing a new rivalry between its prime minister and president.  Although both are founding members of Turkey's ruling party, increasingly the two men appear to be at odds with one another on a variety of political issues.  The rivalry could have far-reaching consequences for the country.
 
The Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, has in the past few months been challenging what is perceived as the increasingly tough positions of the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whether on the treatment of the country’s Kurdish minority, imprisoned journalists or advocating membership in the European Union.  Last month Erdogan voiced his frustration.
 
He said Turkey is not ruled by double-headed governance and he said the country will go nowhere with double-headed rule.
 
Yuksel Taskin, associate professor of politics at Marmara University, is an expert on the ruling AK party to which both men belong.  He says President Gul is reacting to growing concern within the country by the increasingly tough stances of the prime minister.

"President Gul is trying to have a moderate image.  Erdogan, his hard line image only creates sympathy in some nationalist circles, but the rest of the people are becoming increasingly skeptical of his leadership style, especially certain influential circles such as liberals circles, and the business community in the western parts of Turkey in particular," said Taskin.
 
Taskin says the prime minister's hardline stance is a bid to court nationalist’s votes in the 2014 presidential elections, in which he is widely expected to run.  Erdogan has also made it clear he wants to turn Turkey into a presidential system, and to do that he will need the parliamentary votes of the Nationalist Action Party.

Asli Aydintasbas, a political commentator for the Turkish Sky News Channel, says Prime Minister Erdogan’s aspirations are another factor behind the growing rivalry between the prime minister and president.

"Gul is a candidate for the job of the prime minister, but not if Erdogan will go up to become a president and extends his powers so much that the prime minister will be just a figurehead.  The way they are negotiating is through these roundabout statements and policy statements basically," said Aydintasbas.
 
Aydintasbas predicts the ongoing rivalry is likely to deepen.  Speculation is now growing whether President Gul will challenge Erdogan in the 2014 presidential elections.  Taskin of Marmara University says that is unlikely.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a forum in Istanbul, October 13, 2012.Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a forum in Istanbul, October 13, 2012.
x
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a forum in Istanbul, October 13, 2012.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a forum in Istanbul, October 13, 2012.
"I don’t think he will stand as a rival to Erdogan; he would lose.  Supporters of Gul’s power in the party, in the AKP, has been broken down.  They don’t exist in the party structure, so President Gul does not have a power base in the party," he said.
 
Observers point out that without a national political party, it would be extremely difficult for President Gul to run a presidential campaign in a country the size of Turkey against a charismatic campaigner like Erdogan.  But some recent opinion polls indicate the president has a strong lead against Prime Minister Erdogan.

Kadri Gursel, political columnist for the newspaper Milliyet, says if the prime minister continues pursuing a hard line, the resulting divisions could give birth to a new powerful movement in Turkey that could re-elect Gul as president.

"Only a coalition of political and social forces can stop him [Erdogan].  If some fragments of existing political regroupings, coalitions would rally behind Gul and Gul would be happy with them, this can turn to be a new reform movement," said Gursel.
 
President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan have dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, and until now they have been powerful allies.  But that alliance appears increasingly under strain, if it should break, observers say it will have far-reaching consequences for Turkish politics.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: marcus from: germany
November 29, 2012 12:38 AM
as far as ı know both of them are good for advence of turkey. of course there may be different ideas and challenges in democratic countries. we must to see that whoever will be president Turkey is standing with strong democracy.

by: Nahum F from: Israel
November 25, 2012 10:01 PM
The current PM of Turkey has showed himself to be unwise and even amusingly bad at reading reality. Also a disaster for Israel.
Would Mr. Abdullah Gul be better ?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs