Erdoğan spells it out once again

Erdoğan spells it out once again

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not holding back in terms of signaling what kind of political system he wants for Turkey with him at the helm. He is also continues to mix apples and oranges, or as some may say, tomatoes and potatoes, in doing so.

His remarks to the Kanal 7 network on Sunday provide a fine example. Indicating that “developed countries are run under presidential or semi-presidential systems,” Erdoğan pointed to the United States, Russia and China as examples.

“The need for such a system in order to take serial decisions is apparent. If you can’t break the bureaucratic oligarchy, you will face difficulties in governing. Our path is being cut by simple obstacles. This applies to the judiciary and the executive. Our friends in the Cabinet can’t get subordinates to follow orders.”

Erdoğan’s political ambitions and his tactics in trying to fulfill these are there to see in these remarks. The first thing to notice is that he ranks Russia and China on par with the U.S. in terms of “development.” His criteria here is clearly economic, because politically speaking if the gauge is democracy, Russia and China are in a totally different class to the U.S., and not even comparable with each other.

This applies to the two countries in relation to the U.S. – and each other – in terms of standard of living and per capital income, too, of course, but we will merely dwell on the political aspect here. Erdoğan also mixes tomatoes and potatoes when he equates the U.S. presidential system with Russia and China’s “leadership” systems.

Leaders in those countries – even if they have gone through the motions of being elected – wield unencumbered powers and often act like dictators in making “serial decisions,” unlike the U.S. president.

Erdoğan also knows this too and his remarks show he is veering toward the Russian and Chinese models of “leadership.” He only mentions the U.S. to provide balance.

Otherwise, even he knows that the U.S. president has to consult Congress even when appointing an ambassador, and also has the Supreme Court on his back.

It is highly telling in this respect that he should single out the “judiciary” when lashing out at the “bureaucratic oligarchy.” In other words he wants no obstruction from either a bureaucracy responsible for applying rules and regulations, but also no legal obstructions from the judiciary.

This includes the Constitutional Court, which is the only fully independent court left in the country.

Erdoğan made his displeasure with this court more than apparent after it overturned the government’s Twitter ban, and its law on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), saying these were unconstitutional.

It is therefore not difficult to imagine what lies in Erdoğan’s heart. His follow-up remark during the Kanal 7 interview was also revealing in this respect:

“We have to enter the 2015 [general] elections very strongly. Therefore, we need a strong president and strong party leader. It is unthinkable that they should be considered apart from each other.”

By “party leader” Erdoğan means the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) who will replace him, and become prime minister. His intention is to work with this person, who will obviously have to be compliant, so that they get the result they need for the AKP in the 2015 elections.

Otherwise they will be unable to change the Constitution and turn Turkey into the presidential system which Erdoğan’s remarks clearly show he is hankering after. In other words, Erdoğan is spelling out his intentions plain and clear. He still enjoys widespread support, even when he shows that he wants to use democratic elections for less than democratic intentions.

The degree of support he needs for the 2015 elections may not be there, however. This is clearly worrying him. He also gave us a hint of this concern during his Kanal 7 interview when he also complained about AKP deputies who appear not to be toeing his line presently. It may not be easy coasting all the way for him.