By Nick Danforth
September 23rd, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
Turkey’s democratic and authoritarian legacies have been thoroughly intertwined from the outset. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authoritarian instincts have been both motivated and enabled by the authoritarian behavior of his predecessors. Yet Erdoğan is also restrained by institutional forces that remain in place because military and civilian leaders before him proved willing to step down and compromise. And he is moreover restrained by the instincts of voters and some within his own party who value Turkey’s democratic tradition.
By M. K. Kaya
September 23rd, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
With the 5th party congress, the deep divisions within the AKP came to the surface. President Erdoğan masterminded the exclusion of the other “founding fathers” – Abdullah Gül and Bülent Arınç – from the leadership of the party. The party congress also effectively finished off Ahmet Davutoğlu as a serious leader. In fact, the AKP is at an impasse. The struggle that has been raging within the party is exclusively a struggle over power and control, not about the ideological direction, and the party cadres – whether they are behind Erdoğan or disgruntled with his leadership style – are by and large a spent force in Turkish politics.
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak writes that the AKP congress showed that Erdoğan is imposing a model of partisan presidency. Taha Akyol in Hürriyet writes that the new AKP is much more than ever before under the control of Erdoğan and he asks what’s left of the authority of the prime minister. Abdülkadir Selvi in Yeni Şafak implores the AKP to preserve its unity, which he fears is gravely threatened unless the party embraces the old guard that has been purged. Etyen Mahçupyan in Akşam writes that the best way of derailing AKP’s reformism is to end the solution process and he asks what will be the choice of the AKP – to represent old Turkish statism and nationalism or reformism. Mümtazer Türköne in Zaman writes that Erdoğan and PKK are both determined to finish off HDP, and he predicts that HDP is going to boycott the upcoming election to parliament, but thinks that in the end both palace and PKK are going to be the losers.
Mümtazer Türköne in Zaman writes that both PKK and Erdoğan seem determined to finish off the HDP. After November 1, the HDP is not going to be in parliament. Erdoğan is going to repair the damages and will continue to build his autocracy; the PKK meanwhile, will have gotten the conditions it wanted so that it can escalate its “revolutionary people’s war” against a state that has lost its legitimacy and that is increasingly resorting to violence. The violence of the PKK is going to continue and intensify up until the November 1 election. The HDP is going to protest against the curfews and the practice of security zones as being expressions of “the oppression of the voters” and is going to boycott the election. The result: the AKP is going to get the majority with at least 300 deputies in parliament. The palace will get its undivided power back. And then, a bloodbath that will make us long for the present days will ensue. To use Demirtaş' expression, the violence is going to spread all the way to Bodrum (on the west coast.) The palace will maintain control for yet another period. But in the end, both – palace and PKK – are going to be the losers.
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak writes that political rumor before AKP’s congress had it that Davutoğlu would like to have included liberal names who have been critical of recent AKP policies, such as Ali Babacan, Bülent Arınç, Mehmet Şimşek, Sadullah Ergin and Beşir Atalay, in the party leadership. It was also claimed that Erdoğan was distanced to these names, and that he preferred others, close to him, and whose names are not associated with the fraternity [of Fethullah Gülen.] Insofar as Davutoğlu failed to pay attention to intra-party balances, he provoked the reaction of names like Binali Yıldırım, while many turned to Erdoğan, asking him to take charge of the situation. When Davutoğlu accepted these conditions, nearly sixty percent of the names in his list were replaced, and the final decider in the process was the president. Three conclusions can be drawn from this story. First, Davutoğlu did not succeed in his attempt to enlarge his sphere of autonomy. Second, insofar as the list that Davutoğlu presented led to his isolation within the party, it invited Erdoğan to enter the game. Third, this congress has shown that Erdoğan, alongside that he as president is taking an active role within the field of the executive, is also de facto imposing the model of “partisan presidency” by very openly assuming the function as the final decider of the internal affairs of a political party.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.