LALE – President ErdoIan thinks he is still prime minister

President ErdoIan thinks he is still prime ministerPresident Recep Tayyip ErdoIan served for around 12 years as prime minister with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) before he was elected president in the countryand#39s first direct presidential election, held in August of this yearHowever, he signaled that he would not allow his former party to act independently from him when he selected Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu as the new prime minister in August. In fact, in his public statements, ErdoIan made clear that he would be exercising all the presidential powers, some of which were not used by his predecessor, Abdullah Gul, with the intention of exerting his power to shape domestic and foreign policy issues.

Presidential powers are still symbolic in Turkey, where there is a parliamentary system in place.ErdoIan, who has already been displaying authoritarian instincts, seeks an executive presidency under which he can become the sole decision-maker in all policy issues and hence consolidate his powerThe AKP must win a stronger majority in Parliament in the general elections due in June 2015 if ErdoIan is to fulfill his ambition of changing the Constitution and establishing an executive presidency.

Nevertheless, since ErdoIan became president on Aug. 28, several incidents have occurred that demonstrate that he thinks he is still the prime minister One recent press report revealed that ErdoIan has not given up interfering in government affairs.

The Taraf daily reported last week that a crisis allegedly erupted between the Office of the Presidency and the Office of the Prime Ministry when an aisor of ErdoIanand#39s employed at the latter office was accused of acting as a mole. This unnamed aisor had allegedly been telling ErdoIan the content of all the meetings taking place at DavutoIluand#39s office.

This incident has prompted the Office of the Prime Ministry to ban ErdoIanand#39s aisor from taking part in their meetings, revealing a power struggle between ErdoIan and DavutoIlu.In another incident, the government has been in reactionary mode with their Syrian policy, and confusing and contradictory statements have been coming from several government members as well as from ErdoIan on the same topic.

I think a large part of Turkish officials making contradictory statements on Syria , for instance, stem from ErdoIan thinking he is still the prime ministerAdded to the problem is the fact that Turkish foreign policy towards Syria is undoubtedly complex because of the large number of stakeholders involved, such as the countryand#39s spy agency — the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) — as well as the president and the prime minister For instance, DavutoIlu recently stated that Turkey has not yet started allowing Iraqi Kurdish fighters — the peshmerga andndash to travel across Turkish soil to enter Syria to join the fight of Syrian Kurds against terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. Whereas, a day earlier, Foreign Minister Mevlut avuIoIlu confirmed press reports that the peshmergaand#39s passage via Turkey was already taking place.

On all the domestic and foreign policy issues that require government approval, ErdoIan makes statements asserting his power while trying to influence these policies. This is despite the fact that his presidential powers do not allow him to do so because his position requires impartiality.

In fact, a recent move in the judiciary has cast doubt over the impartiality of ErdoIan as president. He has appointed four members to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), three of whom have direct relations with the AKP.

Whereas, according to the 138th article of the Constitution, HSYK members must be independent and impartial. ErdoIanand#39s appointment of AKP-affiliated figures is a clear sign that he wants to influence the appointment of judges and prosecutors to be made by the body, the countryand#39s key judicial council that is responsible for the appointment, promotion and removal of personnel within the judiciary.

When ErdoIan became president, it was unavoidable that he would soon find his new position challenging and busy, and he would be removed from day-to-day policymaking. We see the results of this situation when the government and president issue contradictory messages.

In addition, there have been many incidents, one of which was mentioned above, that prove ErdoIan is determined to give shape to his former partyand#39s decisions.Can Turkey be governable if ErdoIan continues to exert his power over the decision-making processes of the government.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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