A dictatorship in the making?

‘Erdogan is the most powerful leader in Turkish history,’ former lawmaker tells ‘Post.'

By
May 6, 2016 11:17
3 minute read.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech at the Presidential Palace in Ankara

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech at the Presidential Palace in Ankara. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Recep Tayyip Erdogan maneuvered to force out Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, demonstrating that the powerful president does not need the strong executive presidency he seeks since he already wields almost absolute power.

This is the latest sign that Erdogan has consolidated power to such an extent that he can do almost anything he wants. He and his AK Party are working to Islamize the state and its foreign policy all the while continuing to crack down on the media and purge members of the judiciary and police.

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Davutoglu apparently became too powerful and independent for Erdogan’s liking and it is almost assured that his replacement will be even more of a sycophant.

This also is a sign that the more power Erdogan acquires, the more erratic his behavior becomes.

“There seems to be a rushed feeling to it, that it happened in the middle of the week and not on the weekend when the stock market is closed,” Dr. Aykan Erdemir, a member of the Turkish parliament from 2011 to 2015 and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview.

The stock market dropped 7 percent in the past week and this “doesn’t fit Erdogan’s narrative of stability,” he said, adding that Erdogan appears to be relying on a small group of close aides.

According to speculation in the Turkish media, the prime minister was not completely following Erdogan’s line and this became a problem since he demands full loyalty and compliance, Erdemir said.



Domestically, Erdogan probably lost confidence that Davutoglu would successfully push through the constitutional change required to put in place an executive presidential system.

In the international arena, the Turkish president “was unhappy with the prime minister’s growing profile and his active EU policies, which leveraged relations with Turkey with himself and against Erdogan.”

Furthermore, Davutoglu had planned to meet with President Barack Obama in private, in contrast to Erdogan’s failure to schedule such a meeting on his visit to the US at the beginning of April.

“Davutoglu’s better reception in DC made Erdogan furious, people say,” continued Erdemir.

“At the end of this month Davutoglu will be replaced with a ‘yes man,’” he said, adding that Erdogan’s son-in-law, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, or the president’s longtime ally Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim, could receive the post.

Asked about the constitutionality of the dismissal of the prime minister, Erdemir responded that the latest move is 100 percent against the constitution because the president is supposed to be nonpartisan and not involved in party politics.

“Erdogan is no longer a member of the AKP and so he cannot have a say in its internal affairs,” the former Turkish parliament member asserted.

“In the past Turkey had military coups, but I call this a palace coup,” said Erdemir.

“Davutoglu likely got overconfident and started acting independently, forgetting what a control freak Erdogan is.”

Asked what former academic Davutoglu’s future might hold, Erdemir speculated that just like other politicians who fell out with Erdogan, he could be offered a cushy job where the president can keep an eye on him.

Questioned as to anything Davutoglu could do to resist, Erdemir replied that “he is probably looking into how he can fight back, but he knows his chances are nil because of his weak support within AKP, which is to a great extent loyal to Erdogan.”

There is already a de facto executive presidential system, argued Erdemir, adding that “there has never been a more powerful leader in Turkish history.”

The checks and balances are gone and now it can be expected that the government will move forward with plans to revoke parliamentary immunity of pro-Kurdish deputies it deems are supporting terrorism, and will brutally crack down on all dissidents, he said.

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