News / Middle East

    Turkish PM's Presidential Bid Faces Bumpy Road

    Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan leaves his seat to address members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, April 8, 2014.
    Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan leaves his seat to address members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, April 8, 2014.
    Dorian Jones
    With Turkey's ruling party having won a resounding victory in nationwide local elections on March 30, observers claim the door has opened up for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to run in August’s presidential elections. But there are major obstacles to Erdogan's ambitions.

    Supporters of Prime Minister Erdogan celebrated the AK Party's strong showing well into the night. The prime minister claimed the electoral victory not only renewed his political mandate, but also vindicated him of allegations of high-level government graft.

    Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Center says that victory now opens the door to the prime minister’s ultimate political ambition.

    "The prime minister feels that he won, feels he was whitewashed from [cleared of] all the corruption allegations," said Aktar. "Therefore, he feels free to go for the presidency and change the regime into a presidential system -- a bit Putin-like presidential system, where there are no checks or balances. This will deepen the existing tensions and polarizations and antagonisms that exist in this society."

    In the clearest indicator yet of his presidential ambitions, Erdogan appeared to rule out continuing as prime minister, saying he was opposed to changing a party regulation forbidding a fourth term.

    His close allies have also been forcefully arguing that the presidency should have greater powers than its current largely ceremonial role. That's because, they argue, this is the first time a president will be elected by popular vote.

    But previous efforts to enhance presidential powers failed because opposition parties opposed such a move.

    Observers say one of the main factors behind the opposition is the accusation that Erdogan has grown increasingly authoritarian.

    Asli Aydintasbas, a political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, says despite Erdogan's electoral successes, he remains a deeply divisive figure, making a presidential bid difficult.

    "Erdogan is very special figure in Turkish politics, in the sense that he is so popular and so hated at the same time," said Aydintasbas. "There are people who would take a bullet for him --  thousands and tens thousands - and those who want him to see him dead."

    Devlet Bahceli, head of one of the main opposition parties (National Action Party) said anyone but Erdogan should be president. Most of the prime minister's opponent have similar feelings, observers say.

    Erdogan initiated peace talks two years ago with the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, and the leadership of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, has not ruled out supporting Erdogan’s presidential bid.

    Erdogan's AK Party won around 44 percent of the vote in March’s local elections -- well ahead of its nearest rival, the secular CHP, which won 28 percent, but short of the minimum 50-percent-plus-one-vote share he would need to win the presidential election in one round of voting and avoid a runoff.

    The BDP, which won 6 percent in the local elections, could make up the shortfall.

    But Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University says even with such support, there is no guarantee Erdogan will win the presidential race.

    "Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be tense. It going to be more polarized and it’s going to be more brutal," said Ozel.

    Yet to be clarified are the intentions of the incumbent president, Abdullah Gul, who is a founding member of the AK Party and a close colleague of the prime minister.

    Gul has not declared his intentions but has called for a meeting with Erdogan to discuss the presidency. Observers say the outcome of that meeting will likely be critical in determining the outcome of August's presidential election.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ali from: mars
    April 10, 2014 2:50 AM
    God will fulfill his aim whether you want or not.Your sysmem is also presidental system.Why is it problem Turkey's management system for you?I see you want to found Big israel .you are slaves of israel.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora