News / Middle East

Turkey's President Signs Controversial Judiciary Law

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (L) and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (C) arrive at the opening ceremony of a new line of the Ankara Metro, in Ankara, Feb. 12, 2014.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul (L) and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (C) arrive at the opening ceremony of a new line of the Ankara Metro, in Ankara, Feb. 12, 2014.
Dorian Jones
Turkish President Abdullah Gul has signed into law controversial legislation increasing the government’s power over the judiciary. Gul had faced calls to veto the law and had voiced concern about the direction Turkey is taking. Now some are saying the Turkish president is trying to avoid confrontation with the country's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Gul ignored calls to veto a law that gives the government greater control over the judiciary. The legislation has been widely condemned as weakening the separation of powers in Turkey. It gives the Justice Ministry greater control over the independent body that appoints members of the judiciary.

Gul himself said the law violated the Turkish constitution. Briefing reporters ahead of his decision, however, he pointed out any veto would easily be overturned by parliament.

Criticism over signing

Soli Ozel, a political commentator for Haberturk TV, said the president still should have intervened.

"He can claim that he is a ceremonial position, but it is not just a ceremonial position: he is the head of state," Ozel said. "And, [in] my view, we are seeing a total assault on the Turkish state as it is presently constituted, and he is also the president of the republic and certainly he does not seem to be voicing the concerns of the public."

Earlier this month, Gul signed a law extending government control over the Internet. He said he convinced the government to reform some of the most controversial elements of that law.

Gul is a founding member of the ruling AK Party and has been a close ally of Erdogan. Even though the president has voiced concerns about the country’s direction, Asli Aydintasbas of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet said Gul will be careful to avoid a direct confrontation with the prime minister.

"Mr. Gul does not control the party, and him coming out and challenging Erdogan now, would effectively [end] his political career, I think. The prime minister is [a] very fierce street fighter and the president is not, and the prime minister would not shy away from using his power in media, as well as his political party machine, in attacking the president if he was to challenge him publicly," said Aydintasbas.

Eye on future office?

The president's term ends in August and he has not ruled out running for office again. Observers say he also may be considering becoming prime minister again if Erdogan is elected president.

Political commentator Ozel warns, though, that Gul’s public standing already may be damaged.

"Polls indicate his own approval rating has gone down either 10 or 17 percent, depending on the poll. And the reason for that is people are looking for leadership, and leadership is not something they see in the president," said Ozel.

But analysts say the president sees his future political fortunes tied to his standing in the ruling AK Party, and will be anxious to not be seen as disloyal to the party. Newspaper columnist Aydintasbas said the president will be watching key local elections next month, which the prime minister has declared a referendum on his rule.

"If he [Prime Minister Erdogan] has [a] good showing [at the] end of March, he is going to continue to fight. If things look lousy for AKP -- yes, there will be more calls for Gul to step in and play a mediating role and maybe assume greater responsibility. But all that depends on the local election results," said Aydintasbas.

A political commentator once described the president as a spider who waits for his prey to come to him, rather than hunting it. It is widely acknowledged he lacks the charisma of Prime Minster Erdogan, but observers say what he lacks in charisma is made up for in political acumen.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs