The political scene today

A rift within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is something that many both inside and outside Turkey have been hankering after And now it has happened. There is a growing very public rift between President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent ArIn, who in the last few days has been defending the government and criticizing ErdoIan.

This has opened the door for a change in the political landscape. While some in the AKP have

A rift within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is something that many both inside and outside Turkey have been hankering after And now it has happened.

There is a growing very public rift between President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan and Deputy Prime Minister Banduumllent ArInandccedil, who in the last few days has been defending the government and criticizing ErdoIan. This has opened the door for a change in the political landscape.

While some in the AKP have been increasingly unhappy about ErdoIan undermining the government (and not just the government — he has been attacking the central bank for months), the upset came about due to the Kurdish peace process. On March 21 the imprisoned Abdullah andOumlcalan sent a Nevruz message from ImralI Island to the outlawed Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK).

The message was read out in DiyarbakIr in the Kurdish heartland and asks the PKK to take a decision to lay down arms and move towards a non-violent approach. He suggested a andldquodemocratic solutionandrdquo for the Kurdish problem, stating that a new era for Kurds in Turkey andquotwould be based on free, egalitarian, constitutional citizenship within the Republic of Turkey.

andquot This is a message that the Turkish government has been expecting to hear for a long time.

In order to move to start official negotiations, the creation of an andldquoindependentandrdquo monitoring group was crucial for the Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP).

While the government is ready to move ahead with this and start official talks, ErdoIan has seen red, objecting. As he underlined, during his entire time as prime minister he was completely opposed to the idea of sending a group of andldquowise peopleandrdquo to ImralI.

Now that he is not prime minister, other people have different ideas. ErdoIanand#39s statement came just days after Deputy Prime Minister YalandccedilIn AkdoIan announced that a committee consisting of five or six people would soon be established.

ErdoIan almost certainly fears that his plan to play for time in the Kurdish process — due to the forthcoming June parliamentary elections — is now being endangered because of some decisions that Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIluand#39s government is taking in creating this committee.

As soon as andOumlcalanand#39s message was read out, ArInandccedil stated that he objected to ErdoIanand#39s objection.

So ErdoIan is now moving in the opposite direction from the government, adopting a more nationalist stance and insisting that the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) lead the process. But for once the government is not going to listen to ErdoIan.

This is the first time that the government has really challenged ErdoIan and told him to mind his own business. This has led to an unprecedented crack within the AKP.

Earlier this week, Ankara Mayor Melih Gandoumlkandccedilek called on the government to dismiss ArInandccedil if he fails to resign. He also accused ArInandccedil of being the inside man of the andldquoparallel stateandrdquo within the AKP.

ArInandccedil in response claimed Gandoumlkandccedilek was carrying out illegal activities, which has led to a police investigation of the municipality. ArInandccedil also said he is going to reveal some secrets after the elections.

Due to an AKP rule that does not allow a deputy to run for a third term, a new page in his life will open after the election. With all the scandals of recent times, this could be very damaging to ErdoIan.

All this means that ErdoIanand#39s dream of turning Turkey into a presidential system is evaporating, as is the support that he was hoping to get from Kurds. Furthermore, ErdoIanand#39s seemingly continued meddling in the business of the government, even by flouting the Constitution, demonstrates that this new system of electing both the president and the prime minister does not work — more so when you have a president like ErdoIan who wants to decide everything even though he has no mandate to do so.

While ErdoIan will now no doubt push the nationalist vote, his approach will surely give the HDP a boost in terms of passing the 10 percent threshold to make it into Parliament. The outcome for the AKP of the June election is now far from guaranteed.

We are possibly looking at a situation where the AKP will lose the absolute majority after the election and a coalition will be formed. Yet ErdoIan should never be underestimated as he is always at his most dangerous when under attack.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman