Growing bigotry

Recent developments have made it clear that there is tension between the Turkish president and the prime minister In retrospect, this is not surprising. The patterns of Turkish political history reveal a kind of Turkish brand of cohabitation.

Accordingly, if a party leader becomes president of the republic and resigns from his party post, tensions emerge between him and the new party leader Many remember this tension in the case of Suleyman Demirel and T

Recent developments have made it clear that there is tension between the Turkish president and the prime minister In retrospect, this is not surprising. The patterns of Turkish political history reveal a kind of Turkish brand of cohabitation.

Accordingly, if a party leader becomes president of the republic and resigns from his party post, tensions emerge between him and the new party leader Many remember this tension in the case of Sanduumlleyman Demirel and Turgut andOumlzal. Both became president and both failed to manage the tension between them and their former parties.

Interestingly, party leaders who become president, as current President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan did, immediately become embroiled in a power struggle with the new leader of the party they had lately led. This is why many expected tension between ErdoIan and Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu, the new leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

The first serious tension came to the fore with Hakan Fidan, chief of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). Fidan resigned his post in order to become a ruling-party candidate in the upcoming parliamentary election.

Surprisingly, President ErdoIan averted this plan by exerting pressure on the prime minister In a very unusual turn of events, Fidan gave up his candidacy and returned to his intelligence post. Most people interpreted the Fidan case as the ultimate defeat of Prime Minister DavutoIlu by President ErdoIan.

The most serious tension has arisen in the context of the ongoing negotiations with the Kurds. The government decided recently to include a small group of intellectuals in its team of negotiators.

Again unusually, President ErdoIan declared last Friday that this move was a mistake, and that no one had informed him of the circumstances of the inclusion. This was President ErdoIanand#39s first public criticism of the DavutoIlu government.

On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Banduumllent ArInandccedil, the official government spokesman, reacted publicly to President ErdoIan. ArInandccedil noted that it is the responsibility of the government to concern itself in the negotiations with the Kurds.

ArInandccedil also noted that ErdoIanand#39s comments are harming the government. Most dramatically, ArInandccedil opined that what ErdoIan had said were andldquohis emotional comments.

andrdquo By Turkish standards, this is a quite dramatic development. Indeed, one finds it bemusing that ArInandccediland#39s remark was so personal.

As the spokesman of the DavutoIlu government, ArInandccediland#39s reaction has to be seen as the governmentand#39s reaction to ErdoIan. It seems that ErdoIan is becoming a burden for the DavutoIlu government.

Facing serious economic problems, the global players want DavutoIlu to show his capacity to rule Turkey. As long as ErdoIan continues to carry on like an irresponsible shareholder, the DavutoIlu government will not be able to persuade global investors.

Thus, DavutoIlu knows that he must convince domestic and international actors of his capacity to keep ErdoIan within the constitutional borders. Ironically, DavutoIluand#39s survival depends on his capacity to counterbalance ErdoIan.

What is primarily responsible for this tension between ErdoIan and DavutoIlu? The Turkish legal system says that it is the party leader who finalizes the candidate lists before parliamentary elections. Thus, it is Prime Minister DavutoIlu who will decide who is on the AK Partyand#39s list of parliamentary candidates.

In other words, it is DavutoIluand#39s legal prerogative to manage his own party, and this gives him the capacity to purge ErdoIan. Legally, the president is not entitled to interfere in the creation of candidate lists.

Attempts to do so are completely unconstitutional. Thus, ErdoIan needs the approval of DavutoIlu to put anyone on the candidate list.

So, here is the critical question: Will Prime Minister DavutoIlu let ErdoIan interfere in the compilation of the AK Party list of parliamentary candidates? Or will DavutoIlu decide that list unilaterally? This simple question is the key one for letting us know the future of the DavutoIlu-ErdoIan tension.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman