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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs