Turkey: Why Did Erdogan Replace Davutoglu As Premier?
01 June 2016
By Dr. Abdul Ruff
Turkey, formerly Ottoman Empire, is the only Muslim country in Europe, and
hence facing problems of entry into EU as a legitimate European nation
Turkey in recent times is facing serious problems and domestic crisis with
bombs being exploded in the capital Istanbul. Even presidency and government
found themselves in logger heads possibly on disagreements over certain
domestic and foreign policy issues.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom western media accuse of
authoritarian in outlook, believes a strong presidency can do away with the
problems Turkey faces now.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan removed his trusted ally Ahmet
Davutoglu as premier in a swift move essentially to strengthen his presidency
and smoothen the government functioning without frictions within and to strike
a balance on his own positions in domestic and foreign policy matters.
By replacing his increasingly powerful Prime minster Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish
President Erdogan appointed on May 22, 2016 one of his most trusted allies
Binali Yildirim, the transportation and communications minister to form
Turkey's new government, in a move seen to help consolidate his hold on power.
Binali Yildirim, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party
was tapped to replace Ahmet Davutoglu who stepped down amid growing
differences with Erdogan, including his wish to overhaul the constitution to
give the largely ceremonial presidency executive powers.
The appointment of the 60-year-old politician Binali came hours after the
ruling AKP party confirmed him as party chairman, and he immediately expressed
allegiance to the Turkish leader, vowing to follow his path. New premier
Yildirim has said he would work to legalize the ''de facto'' presidential
system by introducing a new constitution to that effect.
Supporters credit Yildirim for his role in developing major
infrastructure projects which have helped buoy Turkey's economy and boost the
party's popularity. But critics, including the leader of the main opposition
party, have accused him of corruption. Yildirim has rejected the accusation.
Davutoglu, a former diplomat and foreign minister, is an intellectual and the
author of books on Turkish foreign policy and political theory. Erdogan is a
former mayor of Istanbul and semi-professional soccer player, and analysts say
he is increasingly intent on securing his own enduring power in the state.
Davutoglu was considered the more pro-European of the two
Former foreign minister of Turkey Ahmet
Davutoglu who led the country's foreign policy rather successfully has strong
opinions on external affairs, especially on EU and Israel.
Regarded as a thoughtful and competent leader, Davutoglu replaced Erdogan as
Prime Minister in 2014 more than a decade after the AKP came to power.
Alongside Erdogan, Davutoglu was a key public face of the party when it won a
comeback victory in the country's November 2015 parliamentary election, five
months after the AKP had shocked experts by losing its majority in a previous
Davutoglu, a one-time adviser to Erdogan and a former foreign minister, fell
out with the president over several issues including the possibility of peace
talks with Kurdish rebels, and the pre-trial detention of journalists accused
of spying and academics accused of supporting terrorism. In his farewell
speech, Davutoglu said resigning was not his wish but that he agreed to it to
preserve the unity of the party.
Erdogan wants an executive presidency in Turkey to replace the current
parliamentary system, a plan for which Davutoglu has offered only lukewarm
support. His departure is likely to pave the way for a successor more willing
to back Erdogan's ambition of changing the constitution and strengthening the
presidency, a move opponents say will herald growing authoritarianism.
Erdogan's end goal is to consolidate enough popular support to switch to a
presidential system. Davutoglu's end goal is to consolidate his own power and
be a successful prime minister.
Erdogan's drive to tighten his grip on power has caused an increasingly open
rift with Davutoglu, encompassing issues from relations with Europe to the
pre-trial detention of government critic
As prime minister, the more moderate Davutoglu had been the formal head of
government in Turkey, but he was widely regarded as governing under the long
shadow of Erdogan, the more ambitious and ultimately the more powerful of the
two. With the former prime minister sidelined, analysts say Erdogan has
removed one of his only potential rivals for power within the state.
While the two politicians had been friends and allies for
years, recent signs of tension between the two had become clear. The two had
also publicly disagreed over whether to resume negotiations with Kurdish
militants whom the Turkish military is fighting in the country's southeast.
Davutoglu himself wished to carve out an independent political space.
The two leaders cannot work together anymore. Erdogan is not satisfied with
Davutolgu's too soft and diplomatic style in the management of the country and
in the management of certain issues between Turkey and Europe.
Regarded as a thoughtful and competent leader, Davutoglu
replaced Erdogan as prime minister in 2014, more than a decade after the AKP
came to power. Alongside Erdogan, he was a key public face of the party when
it won a comeback victory in the country's November 2015 parliamentary
election, five months after the AKP had shocked experts by losing its majority
in a previous election.
Ahmet Davutoglu resigned as Turkish Prime Minister in May in a dramatic move
that clears the path for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to further consolidate
his already extensive power. Davutoglu's departure comes as Erdogan and his
ruling Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials AKP) are
preparing a campaign to replace Turkey's parliamentary system of government
with a presidential system, a shift that could cement Erdogan's control of the
Turkish state for years to come. ''The fact that my term lasted far shorter
than four years is not a decision of mine but a necessity,'' he said,
according to Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper. He said he would continue his
friendship with Erdogan ''until my last breath.'' He added, ''The honor of our
president is my honor. His family is my family.''
Davutoglu's departure comes as Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP) are preparing a campaign to replace Turkey's parliamentary system
of government with a presidential system, a shift that could cement Erdogan's
control of the Turkish state for years to come.
The Turkish country is switching at
least to a de facto presidential system, and therefore the next government
under the next prime minister will have an even smaller independent political
space than the Davutoglu executive. The leaders of two key opposition parties
denounced the move as a power grab. At a news conference in Ankara, Kemal
KılıÁdaroğlu, leader of the secular Republican People's Party, which holds the
second largest number of seats in parliament, told reporters, ''All democracy
supporters must resist this palace coup.''
The change in the government and party leadership comes at a time when NATO
member Turkey is facing an array of security threats including renewed
conflict with Kurdish rebels in the southeast, a wave of suicide bombings
linked to Kurdish and Islamic State militants, as well as growing blowback
from the war in neighboring Syria. The transition also coincides with growing
tensions with the European Union over a controversial deal to reduce the flow
of illegal migrants from Turkey to Greece, which Davutoglu helped broker.
In addition to bitter parliamentary politics, Turkey is also
grappling with a lethal conflict with Kurdish insurgents, a wave of attacks by
ISIS militants, and the presence of more than 2.7 million refugees who fled
the civil war in neighboring Syria. But the sense of growing instability and
violence may have actually helped cement the AKP's grip on power. After losing
its majority in the parliament, called the Grand National Assembly, in an
election in June 2015, coalition talks failed. In the meantime, fighting
resumed in the Kurdish-majority southeast and ISIS carried out a series of
lethal bombings in the country. When voters returned to the polls, they
restored the AKP's majority.
Following the election, the government intensified the military campaign on
Kurdish militants and also expanded what opponents say is a broad effort to
restrict freedom of expression, including arrests and prosecutions of
dissident journalists and academics. Erdogan's critics argue that those and
other measures signal an embrace of an increasingly authoritarian form of
Recently, a parliamentary committee
approved a bill that would strip lawmakers of judicial immunity, a measure
that would clear the way for prosecutions of opposition leaders. Before the
vote, members of the AKP and the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP)
engaged in a physical brawl in the house of parliament.
When Davutoglu hinted in April at a possible willingness to
resume of peace talks with Kurdish militants, Erdogan ruled out any
negotiations, saying the government would continue battling the insurgents.
President Erdogan, frequently critical of the EU, has at times appeared to
belittle Davutoglu's progress, most notably efforts to win visa-free travel to
Europe by June, the main prize in the eyes of many Turks. ''During my time as
prime minister it was announced this would come in October 2016
Erdogan, a political fighter hardened by a childhood in Istanbul's rough
Kasimpasa district, wants a robust presidential system as a guarantee against
the fractious coalition politics that hampered Turkey in the 1990s. His
opponents see a stronger presidency as a vehicle for his own ambition.
Such a system would have seen Davutoglu, a more mild-mannered
academic and former diplomat who lacks Erdogan's natural appeal to crowds,
The two have governed in a strained
alliance since Erdogan won the presidency in 2014 and Davutoglu replaced him
as prime minister. Aides to Davutoglu had largely dismissed the tensions as
matters of style rather than substance. But in the clearest sign yet of a
power struggle, the authority to appoint provincial AKP officials was taken
from Davutoglu last week. The move reduced Davutoglu's hold over the party
grassroots and cemented Erdogan's influence.
foreign relations, the two leaders have appeared at odds over the deal with
the EU to stem the flow of illegal migrants from Turkish shores to the Greek
islands, in return for which Ankara has been promised accelerated EU accession
talks, visa liberalization and financial aid. The deal has been Davutoglu's
project, and its future may be less certain after his departure.
Davutoglu's departure looms as Turkey faces mounting security
challenges, with a Kurdish insurgency in its southeast and the spillover of
the war in Syria on its southern border. The European Union is counting on
Turkey to help stop migrants streaming into the continent under a landmark
accord brokered by Davutoglu, and Washington is drawing on NATO member
Ankara's support in fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The lira
weakened more than 4 percent to 2.976 to the dollar, its weakest since the end
of February, as investors balked at the prospect of more uncertainty.
Davutoglu's early exit as party leader and PM constitutes another episode that
show that Erdogan's dominance over the AKP and the executive is absolute and
unchallenged. The new premier Binali Yildirim is also an experienced
politician who knows how to balance the president and nation.
There is no clarity if Davutoglu opposed Constitutional amendment to make the
presidency stronger or if he opposed any move to make over with Israel or EU.
However, certain steps by president Erdoğan shows eh wanted a free hand in
deciding all s aspects of governance both on domestic and foreign fronts
After being stubborn for months, Turkey's president Erdoğan has now apologized
to Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, for the downing of a Russian
fighter jet, opening a door to a detente between Moscow and Ankara after a
bitter diplomatic row. Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped for a ''quick''
normalization in ties with Russia after he expressed regret over the downing
of one of Moscow's military jets. ''I hope we can put behind us the current
situation, which is detrimental to both countries, and advance towards a quick
normalization,'' he said in a dinner to break the Ramadan fast at his
presidential palace in Ankara.
President Erdoğan also
made positive gestures to appease Israel, forgetting what it did to the
prestige of former Ottoman Empire by attacking its aidship bound for Gaza
Strip with humanitarian aid and many peace workers on board on international
waters. Turkey, under pressure from Israel and USA, announced the restoration
of diplomatic ties with Israel after a six-year rupture and expressed regret
to Russia over the downing of a warplane, seeking to mend strained alliances
and ease a sense of tension and frustration.
possible rival now ejected from political life, Erdogan and his party are
expected to continue with an existing plan to transform Turkey's government
into a presidential system. But Davutoglu's resignation raises questions about
the future of a controversial agreement between Turkey and the European Union
to accept refugees denied entry to Greece in exchange for allowing some
refugees to fly to Europe. Davutoglu was the architect of the agreement, which
went into effect last month.