A mayor asking the deputy prime minister to resign…

A mayor asking the deputy prime minister to resign…

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has tried to silence the polemic between Bülent Arınç and Melih Gökçek by saying, “They are both wrong.”

It is understandable for a party leader to silence such a polemic as general elections are approaching. However, it is not possible to understand his consideration of a cabinet minister as equal to an outsider.

We have a gentleman mayor in our biggest city, Istanbul. Have you heard him enter any political polemics? Is it the business of a mayor from the same party to demand the resignation of a deputy prime minister?

Prime Minister Davutoğlu should have stated that his cabinet minister Arınç’s fault was his manner of speaking, not the difference of his position. 

There is also a much more important dimension of the matter beyond the polemic between Arınç and Gökçek: The constitutional powers of the government and the president. When Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said, “Don’t let an image be formed of guardianship of the president over the government.

 Don’t forget that there is a government in this country, and I would defend my government against all kinds of dangers,” he was defending the Davutoğlu government. He was defending it against the eroding attitude of the president against the Davutoğlu government.

The prime minister, who said “both of them are wrong” in the Arınç-Gökçek polemic, did not specifically reproach Arınç’s critical words against the president. Indeed, he could not have supported Arınç openly in this matter, but even his careful avoidance of saying that Arınç’s criticisms were wrong is important.
It is indeed true that a prime minister should defend the powers and reputation of his government.

Parliamentary customs  

As a person who knows Davutoğlu’s intellectual hinterland and his ambitious character, I am sure he is not happy with the heavy shadow being cast by the presidential palace. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to switch to a presidential system, which would spell the end of the prime ministry and the institution of the government. He has said the parliamentary system had been taken to the “waiting room” with last year’s Aug. 10 presidential election.

On the other hand, Davutoğlu defines the relation between the prime minister and the president as such: “Our relationship with our esteemed president is the president-prime minister relationship in state traditions. While using our powers, we are loyal to this tradition.” (Dec. 8, 2014)
Davutoğlu’s references to the traditions of the parliamentary system are obvious. The parliamentary system is not in the “waiting room.”

The Islamist writer Hakan Albayrak recently addressed President Erdoğan’s stances that are eroding the government, writing, “Don’t do this chief. In the name of God, don’t.” He added that he missed the era when Erdoğan was the prime minister, Abdullah Gül was the president, and Davutoğlu was the foreign minister. “Abdullah Gül acted with the awareness that he was also the president of our domestic opponents, guaranteeing justice for them, being a kind of safety valve, inspiring confidence in every one of us,” Albayrak wrote.

It is a distinctive feature of the parliamentary system for the office of the president to inspire confidence in “every one of us.”

Our late teacher Ali Fuat Başgil, in his book “Organic Law,” which was written in the era when Celal Bayar was a president affiliated with a political party, described the kinds of troubles that would stem from presidents’ engaging in active politics. This is the warning of science and history.

Both power and responsibility belong to the government. It is not good for anybody to further elevate tension about the system through power fights, as if the country has no other problems.