Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won his power struggle with Ahmet Davutoglu. But, DW's Reinhard Baumgarten writes, the battle made clear that resistance to Turkey's president is growing - even within his own party.
There is great cause for alarm in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gone to unprecedented lengths to consolidate his power. He is determined to change the constitution and make himself the boundless ruler of the Turkish people by hook or by crook. Voters have declined to help him to that end in two successive parliamentary elections. Both times his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came up clearly shy of the votes needed to assemble a parliamentary majority.
Yet Erdogan, who constantly points out that he is the first Turkish president to be directly elected, refuses to accept the message that voters have sent him. Erdogan appointed Ahmet Davutoglu to succeed him as prime minister because he saw him as a willing executor of his political will. That obviously didn't work out. Despite his abundant loyalty toward Erdogan, Davutoglu remained too independent.
Tensions have been simmering within the AKP for months now. Party grandees such as Abdullah Gül and Bülent Arinc have openly expressed their displeasure with Erdogan's shameless lust for power. Nevertheless, such criticism hasn't changed anything. Quite the opposite: Erdogan, who is obliged by the current constitution to remain neutral on a party level, has strengthened his control over the AKP.
Relationship in tatters
A few days ago, the AKP's executive body revoked party leader Davutoglu's right to appoint district chairmen. On May 1, a blog bearing the title Pelican Brief popped up online. The blog bludgeoned Davutoglu. Turkish commentators suspect that the presidential palace is behind the defamation campaign.
The relationship between Erdogan and Davutoglu soured months ago. The president has called Davutoglu too pro-European and accused him of doing too little to shield Erdogan from his growing list of enemies. The arguments against Davutoglu sound like something from the 19th century.
Who will replace Davutoglu? Perhaps Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim or possibly Energy Minister Berat Albayrak; the latter is the president's son-in-law. Erdogan will no doubt see to it that the replacement is more pliant than Davutoglu was. With that, democracy in Turkey will come under further threat.
The increasing concentration of influence in Erdogan's hands has long given rise to questions about the state of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers in Turkey. And it is not only the opposition that is worried: Recent reports by the European Parliament and Commission have expressed similar concerns. The more that power is consolidated under Erdogan, the greater the threat to democracy and stability in the EU candidate country.
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