By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
In recent months, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made a string of highly controversial public statements which appear indicative of an authoritarian mindset. For some, they are a sign that Erdoğan is discarding the patina of democratic pluralism of the last ten years and reverting to the dogmatic intolerance of his early political career. Others claim that Erdoğan’s provocative statements are merely a tactical maneuver, a ploy to distract public attention from government failures and embarrassments, and that he has no intention of acting upon them.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
On October 1, 2012, in an address to parliament, President Abdullah Gül criticized the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan for its failure to push ahead with Turkey’s bid for EU membership and protested the continuing imprisonment of seven elected opposition members of the assembly. His speech came a day after Erdoğan had effectively launched his campaign to succeed Gül as president in August 2014. Speaking at the biannual congress of the ruling AKP, Erdoğan implicitly signaled his presidential ambitions by offering to serve the country in a capacity other than prime minister; while delegates were handed leaflets advocating the replacement of the country’s parliamentary system with a presidential one. No one was in any doubt as to who Erdoğan believed should head the new system. As a result, Gül’s speech to parliament was also a public gesture of defiance, a calculated demonstration of his unwillingness to meekly cede the presidency to Erdoğan.
By M. Kemal Kaya (vol. 5, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will hold its fourth party congress on September 30, 2012. Although Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have taken care to design a party organization that he can – presumably – continue to control from the presidential palace, and although the next leader of the AKP is likely to be a person that does not seek to rival the stature of Erdoğan, Turkey’s most successful party nonetheless faces an uncertain future.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
On August 4, 2012, Turkish President Abdullah Gül sought to quell speculation about tensions with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the 2014 presidential election by publicly declaring that their relationship was “bound by the law of brotherhood”. He dismissed questions about whether he was planning to stand for re-election, commenting that two years was a long time. “When the time comes, we shall sit down together, talk and make a joint decision about the best thing to do” he said. However, beneath the fraternal façade, Erdoğan’s ambitions to succeed Gül as president and then replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with a presidential one have seen the already strained relations between the two men deteriorate to the point of mutual hostility, as each maneuvers for advantage in preparation for a potential power struggle.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
On June 14, 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly invited Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the powerful Gülen Movement, to return to Turkey from self-imposed exile in the United States. On June 16, 2012, in a videoed interview, Gülen declined the invitation, breaking down in tears as he expressed his fears that his return could be exploited to destabilize the country and damage his movement’s achievements. In recent months, Erdoğan and members of the Gülen Movement have been engaged in a bitter power struggle. As a result, Erdoğan’s invitation to Gülen was interpreted by some commentators as a reconciliatory peace offering. However, it would probably be more accurate to interpret it as a challenge to Gülen, an assertion of authority in the guise of a magnanimous gesture.
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.