Fight for power

Fight for power

With Hakan Fidan making a quick exit from politics back to the post of undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization, is it possible to assume that the Fidan incident was a humiliation for Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and a declaration of victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the first major battle for power in the ruling party? Did Davutoğlu want to believe he was a trueborn prime minister equipped with all the powers of the prime ministry and Erdoğan cut him to size? Like the kids who occupy the prime minister’s seat for an hour or so on National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, did Davutoğlu find himself sitting on a chair with no power and the strings in Erdoğan’s hands?

There has been lots of speculation since the first meeting of the cabinet under Erdoğan’s chairmanship on Jan. 19 that at that meeting, frustrated with Erdoğan’s “tutelage,” Davutoğlu challenged to step down. He, according to claims, demanded to be seated next to Erdoğan but received a very impolite reply: “Stop Ahmet, stop playing the game of prime ministry.”

At the March 9 meeting of the cabinet at the extravagant presidential palace, the president was again chairing the meeting alone and the prime minister was sitting together with the ministers. Photographs of the meeting showed however that unlike the first meeting, Davutoğlu apparently accommodated himself to the image of the “first deputy top executive.”

Naturally, the Fidan incident was not discussed during the cabinet meeting or at the short tet-a-tete of the master and his first aide. The issue, according to one reliable claim, was indeed resolved during the recent umrah to the holy land and the consequent meeting of Erdoğan and Fidan in Ankara. Well, if Erdoğan is bypassed by Fidan entering politics, Davutoğlu might be bypassed by him returning to civil service. The farce was in the fact that Fidan returned to civil service with Davutoğlu’s “consent” and “executive decision.”

How has the Fidan incident evolved? At what point did Erdoğan decide to challenge Davutoğlu with the probability of former President Abdullah Gül’s return to active party politics? If, at the top echelons of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the government, the tradition of “developing common wisdom” - for which the AKP has been so proudly boasting of - is being totally replaced with individual obsessive orders from Erdoğan and if Davutoğlu has begun to demand the powers of the prime ministry, what are the real stakes? With the place of Fidan in politics or in the civil service, whether Gül becomes a candidate or not, who will have the executive power?

Obviously, discreetly, shyly and as much as possible within the paper palace of Erdoğan, a battle has started in the AKP which will not stop anytime soon. This battle will be waged at the lowest intensity possible but consistently up until the June 7 election, which will be decisive for good or bad. If the AKP, proving wrong all expectations, wins over 50 percent of the vote and produces at least 330 deputies (a 3/5 majority in parliament, giving the party the sufficient parliamentary majority to legislate constitutional amendments without the need to go to a referendum) the era of Davutoğlu will come to an end and Erdoğan will become the legitimate neo-sultan, the sole powerful of the country. That “Turkish style presidential governance” Erdoğan wants to introduce will convert Turkey into a country with no checks and balances but ruled with an elected sultan. If in the meantime the security package in parliament is legislated, than the country will become a police state, a hellish place for all freedoms except the freedom to love, respect, obey and die for Erdoğan.

Davutoğlu might still deliver lofty speeches, act as if he is a capable prime minister with the power to make a decision on any issue, be an executive for real and boast of advanced democracy, but the Fidan incident was a declaration of victory by Erdoğan over Davutoğlu and a warning for potential rebels within the AKP on who the real boss is and will be.

A fight for power, or a fight for survival for the self-declared absolute ruler?