Analyzing Turkey’s new cabinet
I’ve been comparing the new ministerial cabinet with the cabinet of the previous Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Here’s what I think about the comparative advantages and disadvantages of the cabinet newcomers.
Deputy Prime Minister Tuğrul Türkeş
As a former member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the son of its legendary leader, Tuğrul Türkeş will take over from Numan Kurtulmuş. Türkeş’s biggest disadvantage is his difference of political roots with Kurtulmuş. The latter comes from the “Milli Görüş” (National View) Islamist movement tradition, while Türkeş comes from the MHP. These are two separate lines, two separate political traditions with very different characteristics. So there is a risk of discord. Still, unless there are unforeseen complications, Türkeş will fulfill his job. There is no reason to think otherwise.
In terms of similarities, like Kurtulmuş, Türkeş is a name that has bid for leadership in the past. Kurtulmuş was seen as the prince to succeed the National View throne after Necmettin Erbakan. Türkeş, meanwhile, took a shot at becoming the prince to succeed the MHP throne after his father Alparslan Türkeş. Both men fought to claim the political legacy in their first homes before leaving to form a separate party and experience being a party leader. From that perspective, their accumulated experience could be seen as similar. If Türkeş is able to get rid of the psychology of being a guest and adapt to his hew home, like his predecessor, he will succeed.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş
As for Kurtulmuş, he faces the mission of filling in the gap as government spokesperson left by Bülent Arınç, one of the founding fathers of the AKP and a giant name of politics. He seems to have the character and preparedness to carry the heavy weight that has been put on his shoulders. He has already started adding his own rhetoric and characteristics to the institution of government spokesperson.
But Kurtulmuş has a disadvantage. Unlike Arınç, he has not given any clues of his fondness for poems. On this front, Arınç’s absence is huge, so Kurtulmuş needs to keep some poems in mind if he is to successfully fill in for Arınç. Indeed, a moderate degree of humor, irony and sharpness of tongue add color to political rhetoric. If Kurtulmuş can endorse these, he will be a worthy replacement for Arınç.
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek
Şimşek’s biggest disadvantage is the fact that he is replacing Ali Babacan. The bar has been set high…
However, he is also lucky that his biggest disadvantage is his biggest advantage. Şimşek and Babacan are from the same team, the same school.
They worked in synchrony together when Şimşek was finance minister. They talk the same language on monetary policies, they are on the same page on the independence of the Central Bank, and they see eye to eye on debates over interest rates.
Babacan inspired confidence both domestically and abroad through his style. He spoke little but he was concise. He avoided polemics. He did not step back when facing difficulties but he remained patient on what he believed to be right. These characteristics played an important role in his success.
If Şimsek is able to maintain his predecessor’s resoluteness, that will be enough. Although he is new in his position, he represents a kind of continuity.