20 confrontations between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan during 20 months of prime ministry

20 confrontations between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan during 20 months of prime ministry

Turan Yılmaz/Gizem Karakış - ANKARA
20 confrontations between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan during 20 months of prime ministry Outgoing Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu began his political career as a diplomatic adviser 14 years ago. He rose to the Foreign Ministry and ultimately to the Prime Ministry with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) before choosing to quit the latter post on May 5. 

What determined his fate most was his up-and-down relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Below is a list of 20 of Davutoğlu’s confrontations with Erdoğan during his 20-month odyssey as prime minister.

1. Supreme Court 

Davutoğlu took a stand on former ministers Zafer Çağlayan, Muammer Güler, Egemen Bağış and Erdoğan Bayraktar, advising them to go to the Supreme Court and be acquitted after the Dec. 17-25, 2013, graft probe process, a stance that Erdoğan did not approve of.

2. National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan 

The resignation of MİT head Hakan Fidan to run in the June 7, 2015, elections for the AKP was approved by Davutoğlu. Erdoğan, however, said Fidan should have stayed, and the spy chief was later forced to return to his post.

3. Candidate list 

The formation process of the candidate lists during the June 7 and Nov. 1, 2015, elections was troubled, as Erdoğan’s wishes ultimately overrode those of all others.

4. Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) 

A crisis over candidate lists erupted when Binali Yıldırım, a close confidant of Erdoğan, received enough delegate support to be elected before a Sept. 12, 2015, party congress amid rumors that Erdoğan had used the Yıldırım card as leverage against Davutoğlu.

5. Coalition 

Davutoğlu was open to a coalition following the June 7, 2015, general elections but Erdoğan opted for an election. The country went to the polls five months later.

6. Cabinet 

Two figures, Binali Yıldırım and Berat Albayrak – the latter Erdoğan’s son-in-law – entered the new cabinet in spite of Davutoğlu’s wishes.

7. Close relationships with Arınç and other figures

Former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s closeness to Davutoğlu led to claims of a “power struggle” between the advisers of Davutoğlu and Erdoğan.

8. Presidency 

There were claims that Davutoğlu did not sufficiently support the presidential system during debates about the new constitution, as he even reportedly said that if he defended the presidential system, he would be negating himself.

9. New constitution process

Davutoğlu wanted to prepare a new constitution in parliament as soon as possible while Erdoğan intervened to slow down the process.

10. Transparency

Erdoğan reacted to a motion from Davutoğlu to bring transparency to the assets of politicians and election expenses, saying there would be no provincial and district heads left to be assigned if the bill came to pass.

11. Summary of proceedings over lifting immunities of HDP deputies

Davutoğlu did not take a step to lift the immunities of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies for a long time even as Erdoğan frequently made statements on the issue.

12. Resolution process

Davutoğlu said that if the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) returned to its period of non-conflict circa May 2013 all things could be discussed, but the president said there was nothing to discuss and that the only solution to the Kurdish issue would be military.

13. Definition of terror

Davutoğlu did not take a step in redefining terror in the Turkish Penal Code as Erdoğan desired.

14. Stripping PKK supporters of citizenship 

Davutoğlu said stripping PKK supporters of their Turkish citizenship was not on the agenda while Erdoğan urged all measures to sideline PKK supporters, including stripping them of citizenship.

15. Bureaucracy

Following the elections, Davutoğlu issued a circular halting critical assignments, including top economy officials and governors, but he later had to lift the instructions due to interference from Erdoğan.

16. Academics

Davutoğlu said he was principally against the trial of academics under arrest after they signed a petition against security operations in the country’s southeast, while Erdoğan repeatedly directed harsh rhetoric toward the scholars.

17. Cumhuriyet journalists Dündar and Gül 

Davutoğlu said he would wait for the trial of Cumhuriyet journalists Dündar and Gül, while Erdoğan said he neither obeyed nor respected a Constitutional Court decision that led to the release of the pair in February. 

18. Obama

Davutoğlu’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden was postponed as claims circulated that it had caused a disturbance at the Presidential Palace.

19. Second MKYK confrontation

The AKP board elected to remove authority to appoint AKP provincial and district heads from Davutoğlu on April 29.

20. ‘The Pelican Brief’

A Wordpress blog that was published online as “the Pelican Brief” by an unknown figure close to both men excoriated the outgoing PM, prompting Davutoğlu to call the poster “virtual charlatans.”