Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just become the de facto Sultan of Turkey and he didn’t even break a sweat. Here’s how he did it!
Back in 2007 the AKP changed the constitution via a referendum to make the president directly elected by the people. At that time Erdogan was the Prime Minister which is, per the constitution, the most powerful position in Turkey.
In Turkey they have a dual structure in the executive branch, a Prime Minister and a President. The President is elected by the Parliament and the Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The only structure elected directly by the people are the parliament members themselves.
The Prime Minister is the head of the executive branch (government) and controls the council of ministers (cabinet), which is why it’s the most powerful position in Turkey.
While the President does control the Armed forces and is considered the head of the state, it’s a weaker position in that it is more of an administrative position.
In lies the dilemma.
In 2014 Erdogan became the first President directly elected by the people in Turkey. Erdogan wanted the legitimacy of the people as he transitioned from Prime Minister to the Presidency.
When Erdogan became President, he appointed the AKP party Chairman Ahmet Davutoglu as the Prime Minister.
Even though Erdogan was only the president, he was still running the entire country and government just as he did when he was Prime Minister. The new Prime Minister, Davutoglu, was subservient to Erdogan, giving him this authority.
But at times Davutoglu was still acting like a strong Prime Minister, giving some checks to Erdogan as president. And Erdogan didn’t like this.
Davutoğlu…insisted on being a strong prime minister as Erdoğan had been throughout the 2000s in this political reality. The risk of a “double-headed executive” that Erdoğan often mentioned became an open threat.
A Turkish expert explains it this way:
But Mr. Davutoglu was known to be less enthusiastic than Mr. Erdogan in pushing for a presidential system, something that would have eliminated any remaining authority in the office of prime minister, which under Turkey’s Constitution is the most powerful position.
“There is no major ideological divide between the two,” said Omer Taspinar, an expert on Turkey at the Brookings Institution. “It’s a power struggle, with Erdogan pushing for total loyalty and full support for his presidential agenda and Davutoglu showing slight resistance in order to keep checks and balances to protect his role as prime minister.”
So because Davutoglu wasn’t 100% subservient and loyal to Erdogan 100% of the time, Erdogan viewed him as a threat to his power and a threat to the new presidential system he wanted. So Davutoglu had to go. He resigned yesterday and will not run for the Prime Minister spot again.
So why is this a problem as they will just appoint another Prime Minister? Here is how a Hurriyet opinion writer explained it:
But it is clear that whoever Erdoğan points to is most likely to get the votes of the AK Parti congress. What Erdoğan would expect from the new party chairman and prime minister is nothing short of 100 percent “harmony” (one may call it loyalty) in both party and government affairs. So in practice it will not matter much who is Turkey’s next prime minister. This will mean a radical, though, de facto change in the country’s administrative system: A de facto shift to a semi-presidential system where the prime minister effectively acts as the cabinet coordinator of the president.
So basically the next Prime Minister appointed by Erdogan will be a 100% neutered Erdogan flunky who will give Erdogan everything he wants and not check him in any way.
Even the pro-Erdogan Daily Sabah agrees with this assessment:
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s decision to step down marks the beginning of an administrative reform process that will highlight the president’s role as Turkey’s chief executive and tasks the prime minister with coordinating the actions of cabinet members. In other words, Mr. Davutoğlu’s decision means that Turkey has effectively adopted a presidential system.
The opposition is calling this a ‘palace coup’.
The head of the CHP:
“Davutoğlu’s resignation should not be perceived as an internal party issue; all democracy supporters must resist this palace coup!”
“Mr. Davutoğlu came to the prime ministry seat as a result of the nation’s will but he was forced to leave it due to the will, not of the 23.5 million people who voted for him, but of one person!”
The head of the HDP:
“It is seen that even 99.9 percent homage is not enough for the palace!”
“The people have elected you and the person at the palace wants to decide on who will rule this country. This is called a coup!”
“What did Davutoğlu say [before]? ‘It is the people to decide who will run the country.’ Come on and repeat it. Is it the people who elect or the one at the palace?”
So there you have it. Fascist Erdogan, via a palace coup, has effectively made himself the uncontested Sultan of Turkey, which he and his AKP will soon enshrine in a new constitution. The old constitution is officially garbage now.
UPDATE: Erdogan said today that everyone should just accept this news presidential system, that there is no turning back now:
“At this point, there is no turning back. Everybody should accept this by now,” Erdoğan said during a speech at the inauguration ceremony in Istanbul’s Eyüp district on May 6.
“I believe the new constitution will be prepared in a way that would institutionalize this new way of administration that was brought about based on the preference and approval of our people.”