Erdoğan’s move unlikely to bring stability
Turkey is confronted with a unique situation that it has never had to face before. The president, who constitutionally should be non-partisan and above politics, has gotten rid of the elected prime minister in order to turn the existing parliamentary system into a de facto leadership one for himself - even though the constitution does not allow this.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is putting a brave face on the fact that he has been forced to leave in this way. He has adopted the persona of an honorable man who is above politics, one who is dedicated to a cause and is therefore prepared to fall on his sword for the sake of the leader.
This may look great to the grassroots supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) but even they are not sure about what has happened. They are confused about why Davutoğlu, who in their eyes was doing alright, had to be gotten rid of in this ignoble manner.
What compounds their confusion is the fact that there is no political future left for Davutoğlu, whose sole job now will be to sit quietly in his back bench and lavish accolades on the leader when called upon to do so. He may be given some ceremonial job, but this will have to be one where he can’t step on the leader’s foot in any way.
Some wonder whether Davutoğlu might go back to being foreign minister. He could of course, but that would recall the Turkish saying, “he got off his horse only to mount a donkey.” Anyway, even if he were to reassume this job, he would not be able to exercise free will as foreign minister, because the leader’s shadow will always hover over him as a constant reminder of who’s the boss.
The leader will call the shots and all that will be left for Davutoğlu to do is to carry out the orders, whether these comply with his personal judgment as a professor of international politics or not. All of this is a sad turn of events for Davutoğlu, but what did he expect?
He was brought in to be unquestioningly servile and to remain at the leader’s beck and call, and yet he went on to pretend that he had the ability to exercise some personal initiative.
He now joins the ranks of former president Abdullah Gül and other founding members of the AKP who have been marginalized by the Erdoğan clique. We have also seen now that there is no point in expecting loyalty from Erdoğan toward his fellow travelers in the AKP. As one analyst put it, Erdoğan does not move forward together with fellow travelers - he travels on with whoever he finds on the way, in order to serve his interests.
It is more than apparent what those interests are. Relying on the fact that half the electorate voted for him in the presidential elections in 2014, Erdoğan wants to be the only one who leads Turkey, even though half the electorate did not vote for him.
Erdoğan claims that his leadership will bring the desired stability to Turkey. His record to date, however, carries clear indications of how he plans to secure that stability. It is clear that we are not talking about bringing this about by any democratic means.
But his effort to bring about stability by using the stick is bound to have serious consequences and result in even more political, social and economic turmoil as he converts Turkey into an authoritarian regime.
Turkey’s international ties are also likely to remain strained given Erdoğan’s irascible manner in dealing with other countries and international organizations.
With Davutoğlu out and Erdoğan in even more securely than before, the only thing we can say from our current vantage point is that Turkey has embarked on an uncharted course, the outcome of which is unlikely to be stability.