Davutoğlu did not take over a rose garden clear of thorns
When it comes to the subject of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the leaders of the “cause,” there is the “visible,” which takes place in front of people’s eyes, and there is the “unseen.”
Everyone has already seen the visible. The 1,425 party delegates voted for Ahmet Davutoğlu as the leader of the party. No one else submitted for the candidacy. Of these delegates, 47 did not attend the voting procedure, despite signing in at 10 a.m., and 1,388 delegates cast their votes. Six were found negative, while 1,382 delegates gave their vote to Davutoğlu.
The visible therefore shows a peaceful and quiet change of administration. The party was disciplined, giving its votes to the candidate to which Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pointed. But as Davutoğlu was giving his thank-you tour on the platform, a tradition in the party, the delegate seats were not full. During his thank-you speech, the auditorium was already significantly empty. (Have a look at the platform tour and thank-you speech Erdoğan gave upon being selected in his last assembly; you will understand what I mean.)
The emptiness in the auditorium could be considered normal, considering Davutoğlu’s taking on the position was largely built on Erdoğan’s cult, the overwhelming heat in the room and the apparent outcome of the vote even before the voting had begun. On the other hand, even though Davutoğlu does not have the rank to compete with Erdoğan, we have to admit he needs time to become a “leader.”
Still, from the little that was visible, Davutoğlu did not find a rose garden clear of thorns. Although he is the chairman of the AKP, it isn’t “his party” yet.
What's more, there is also the “unseen.” The auditorium had emptied after Erdoğan’s farewell speech because there was a movie screening and presentations were given by the foreign guests, etc. But I also saw prominent figures of the AKP, who were outside, snickering at the repeated announcement of “Please return to the auditorium, the chairman candidate is about to speak.” I heard ones saying, “There’s no need to listen to anyone else after the ‘patron,’” and I even heard those openly making fun of Davutoğlu.
We can predict that the biggest difficulty Davutoğlu will face is controlling the party and making the party work. At every point of controversy, the party will turn to Çankaya, to President Erdoğan. Some will seek his arbitration and even look to him for a decision. One of the most critical questions for the term ahead of us is whether Erdoğan will intervene in party issues, despite the presence of the AKP’s new chairman.
Of course, there is also the government. If Davutoğlu’s Cabinet, expected to be formed and announced today, ends up being an “Erdoğan Cabinet” without the presence of Erdoğan, partially as a result of obligation, what will Davutoğlu feel when he begins his duty in the government and finds minor authorizations or contract documents as the first papers he must sign?
How will Davutoğlu respond to the differences between his personal idealism/understanding of the “cause,” and real life? We will live through all of that and see.
The ‘where did we leave off?’ government
Let’s accept one thing: Since the Gezi events that left their mark in June 2013, the government has not done anything about the subjects that concern the future of Turkey or the headlines that were mentioned in Davutoğlu’s “restoration” speech. Some clauses in the democratization package announced in September were the exceptions. These clauses were almost being integrated into life, “normalization” was starting; and then Aug. 17 and 25th occurred.
If Davutoğlu wants to be “restorative” or “reformist,” he will have to begin his duty with a “where did we leave off?” attitude.
Where we’ve left off is clear: We left off in May 2013. Today is September 2014.
Maybe this is what Davutoğlu refers to as “restoration,” returning to May 2013 and starting new from that point, but of course, without forgetting about the water that has passed under the bridge.
Taking 333 members out of Parliament...
Erdoğan said it, Davutoğlu confirmed it: The AKP’s aim for the 2015 elections is to win with a majority, which will enable them to change the Constitution. A three-in-five majority is required for the Constitution to be changed through a referendum, which means 330 MPs. The AKP must push through more than 330 MPs, because the president of Parliament can’t vote, and one or two MPs might get sick or die. I propose that they need 333 MPs as a guarantee, say another number if you wish.
A majority of three-in-five means 60 percent of Parliament. And in order to have 60 percent of the MPs, about 52-55 percent of the votes are required, given the existing political consolidation (Turkish politics is consolidated around four parties). To me, this doesn’t seem very possible. (Receiving 52-55 percent of the votes would mean exceeding beyond Erdoğan, and this would have a completely new set of implications – we’ll talk about that later.)
The political truth states that in order to change the Constitution, reaching a consensus with other political parties is, and will, remain necessary. And the precondition of consensus with other parties means stepping back from insistence on the presidential system.
Here, the decision will be made by Davutoğlu.