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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs