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Türkei Ahmet Davutoglu und Tayyip Erdogan
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Altan

'A horror film' unfolding in Turkey

Hilal Koylu, Ankara
May 6, 2016

The winds of a possible new election have been blowing around Ankara. Hilal Koylu reports from Ankara about how the prime minister's departure has raised speculation about President Erdogan's machinations.


During the 20 months that Ahmet Davutoglu has served as Turkey's prime minister and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), there have been ongoing rumors of a rift between himself and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Rumors which Erdogan himself repeatedly quashed.

But, the prime minister's announcement this week that he would likely give up his post showed - like other recent events - how these rumors might have been true all along.

Signs of discord between the two leaders began to appear late last month when Davutoglu's authority to appoint district and local party leaders was revoked at a meeting of the Central Decision and Executive Board.

Days later, a blog analyzing the relationship between Prime Minister Davutoglu and President Erdogan appeared online. Entitled "The Pelican files," the blog pointed out what the anonymous writer described as moves the premier had made against the head of state. The author's identity remains unknown, but some believe the blog stems from an Erdogan supporter, while others believe it was written by a party outsider.

Türkei Premierminister Ahmet Davutoglu Ankündigung Rücktritt
The Turkish prime minister made his announcement on Thursday after several days of speculation about his possible resignationImage: Reuters/U. Bektas

Davutoglu's announcement on Thursday came within a week of both of these events. Davutoglu made a point of emphasizing his loyalty to the president, in a bid to contradict those claiming that there was a rupture within the AKP. He also put to rest questions of his resignation by announcing that he would remain prime minister until the extraordinary congress on May 22.

But his departure raises questions about how President Erdogan will use it to expand his presidential powers, as well as what political change is occurring both within the government and in the opposition.

'A horror film'

In Ankara, both the political ramifications of Davutoglu's announcement and what exactly occurred between Erdogan and Davutoglu are topics of much curiosity.

According to Ayse Ayata, who teaches political science in Turkey, what is happening "resembles a horror film" and amounts to a "presidential coup" by Erdogan.

"We are talking about a prime minister who saw the fall in votes during the June 7 general election and worked to increase them in the November 1 election. Davutoglu is a prime minister who received 50 percent of the national vote," the Middle East Technical University professor told DW.

Türkei Schlägerei im türkischen Parlament
A plan to prosecute those who support the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party sparked a brawl in parliament last week. The HDP sees it as a ploy to silence the oppositionImage: Reuters/Stringer

Erdogan will throw out the opposition HDP and call new elections, Ayata says, leading the country into a situation that will damage democracy and society, and, ultimately, "will end badly."

"It is clear that Erdogan sees nothing preventing his path to the presidential system," Ayata said. "It also involves protecting himself and his family. That is clear."

'The conflicts will escalate'

Ankara University political scientist Baskin Oran also thinks that Turkey is headed toward another election.

"Erdogan took the latest step in installing a presidential system by waging a coup and casting off the Davutoglu government, because Davutoglu didn't do everything that he said," Oran told DW.

According to the political scientist, Erdogan will pursue a strategy of provoking the Kurds and keeping his coalition of the AKP, the military and neo-nationalists.

"Erdogan, until the end, will escalate the conflicts in this country. In order to win an election, he will benefit from an atmosphere of fear and chaos," he said.

But, Oran says, the real question is how long Erdogan will benefit from this strategy - and whether it might ultimately lead to his own downfall.

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