Erdoğan’s headaches: Not just ISIL, PKK and Syria

Erdoğan’s headaches: Not just ISIL, PKK and Syria

For observers who do not want to see more tension in Ankara, it might be a relief to see that it is not President Tayyip Erdoğan, but rather Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu who is going to Australia on Nov. 12 to attend the G-20 summit.

It is true that up to now only prime ministers from Turkey, as the head of the government’s executive body, have attended G-20 summits. That was usually also the case for NATO summits, even though it was Erdoğan who attended the NATO meeting in the U.K. shortly after he was elected president in August.

To be frank, it is not only Erdoğan who is responsible for the confusion over whether the president or the prime minister is the head of the executive body. In the Constitution adopted after the 1980 military coup, the generals stated (in Article 8) that executive power is held by “the president and the board of ministers” - thus dividing it. However, it is Erdoğan who said before he was elected that he was planning to use “all powers given to him by the Constitution.”

He has still yet to summon the Cabinet for a meeting chaired by himself; but it is common knowledge in Ankara that he bypasses the prime minister in consulting and instructing ministers, and that ministers do not hesitate to bypass the prime minister in reporting back to the president.

It is also a common knowledge that Davutoğlu’s choice as the prime minister’s undersecretary was Gökhan Çetinsaya, the former head of the Supreme Election Board (YÖK). But that was not possible. In the end, Kemal Madenoğlu, an able economist, was appointed to that position with Erdoğan’s approval. Çetinsaya formerly served as the undersecretary for the Development Ministry, which had made the construction of the $615 million presidential palace possible in less than two years in order to make it ready for Erdoğan’s term. Now, Çetinsaya has been removed from his post as the head of YÖK to be made an advisor to PM Davutoğlu. No appointment has yet been made for the new head of YÖK.

Similarly, no appointment for the head of the Turkish Treasury has been made since the previous head, İbrahim Çanakçı, left for the IMF over two months ago. 

Such bureaucratic problems were thought to have been left back in the times of fragile coalitions before Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) started its single party government era in 2002.
When looked at from outside, it is impossible not to see Erdoğan’s headaches as being the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the problematic dialogue process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the lack of diplomatic relations with neighbors like Egypt, Syria and Israel, and the absence of agreements with the Greek Cypriots and the Armenians. 

That’s not to mention the Armenian campaign for the 100th anniversary of genocide claims in spring 2015, just months before Turkey’s parliamentary election scheduled for June 2015, amid fears that the PKK could resume its armed campaign after three years of silence if it cannot get what it wants before the election.
In addition to all these headaches as the country heads for the critical election, inner tension has also accumulated, although it has so far been kept under the surface.