Wanted: A facile caretaker

Wanted: A facile caretaker

While traveling to Antalya on May 3 for a “sequencing conference,” speculations were abundant that the prime minister might step down at any moment. There was such an expectation for some time because of an alleged widening rift between the president and the prime minister. Particularly after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Executive Board (MKYK), with alleged demand of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stripped Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu of the power to make single-handed decision on organizational matters, rumors started to float around that the president was pondering who should replace Davutoğlu: Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ or deputy prime ministers Süleyman Soylu and Numan Kurtulmuş? 

Though, for some time in the political corridors of Ankara, there was no doubt that Davutoğlu was departing and uncertainty regarding who would replace him, it was not until he declared boldly at parliamentary group meeting of the ruling party on May 3 that “if necessary I would turn down any position that many may think a mortal could not leave” the day of his departure might indeed come. When he was walking through the corridors of the extravagant palace for his “routine” weekly meeting with the absolute ruler – a day in advance of the accustomed Thursday meeting – bets were long opened over who might be the heir to the seat of the to-be-vacated chief vizier.

But were there any reasons apart some disagreements between the constitutionally chief executive and the de facto chief executive of the country that would require him to step down? Was not Erdoğan a mentor of Davutoğlu? Was it not Erdoğan who singlehandedly made Davutoğlu the AKP leader and prime minister? Was Davutoğlu unsuccessful as prime minister? If he was unsuccessful, why in all public opinion polls was the AKP apparently maintaining its November 2015 election electoral support?

These were not the reasons. Terrorism was claiming lives, according to many economists the economy was not doing good and there were abundant problems in many areas, but the Turkish people were apparently still rather supportive of the AKP and not in any way seeking a government change. Then why did Davutoğlu call it off?

There were some clues about the reasons in a blog article by a mysterious writer. In that article tensions between the staff of the president and the prime minister, back pedaling on both camps, the apparent tension and diminishing confidence were all penned down skillfully and in great detail. That article explained in great detail the fight for power between the two top executives of the Turkish state and how determined the president was in his quest to change the constitution and enhance his position into a super president, the sole executive of the country.

It was clear that very much like the now demonized Fethullah Gülen Islamist brotherhood network that was an ally of the government in campaigns against the secularists, Kemalists and the military, the absolute ruler must have decided Davutoğlu and his men had completed their “mission.” Obviously not only the president, but many of the “royalists” who, as the saying goes, have become more “royal” than him, believed Davutoğlu had become an impediment in achieving the super president ambition. Do Erdoğan and his merry men want a facile AKP leader who will always be in tune with “the leader” and for example would not insist on some names and would not deadlock a decree on new governors for more than six month? Apparently so... And, probably a good caretaker who will always be in tune with the president might be found but… will the problem be over?

What will happen now? Will Davutoğlu be a silent back-bencher in the AKP? Will he join former President Abdullah Gül, Bülent Arınç and other disgruntled former senior AKP personalities? It is believed that despite Erdoğan there are some 50 deputies aligned firmly with Davutoğlu. Will he manage to maintain support of that group? How he will do it, or will he do it?

Davutoğlu has become the first-ever prime minister to step down “of his own free will.” If the Deniz Baykal example – who was compelled to resign from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leadership after a tape allegedly showing him and a woman in intimate relations – is to be excluded, this will be the first-ever change of a political party chairman in Turkey through resignation of the incumbent. What will be the impact of such a development on the AKP? Will it help Erdoğan achieve his super president dream? Or, will the development lead to a crack in the AKP and ignite a new era in the country with the AKP giving birth to its own alternative?

The eventual outcome will become clear in the weeks ahead. What is certain at this moment is the fact that Davutoğlu will be remembered as a man who opened a new age in the country by deciding or being forced to step down.

Listening to Kathrine Atkinson of “Illumina” explaining how sequencing might help prevent genetic illnesses, I wonder, “Can we through sequencing get rid of the greed and the aspiration to dominate everyone and everything which must be a genetic ailment as well?”