With the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish president is on a fast track to consolidate unchallenged power.
“Davutoglu didn’t even give an honest reason why he’s going. It was a surprise to all us,” an official familiar with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told Deutsche Welle.
The Turkish prime minister announced that he would step down last week. The move wasn’t entirely unexpected, as tensions between Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been building, but the impact of Davutoglu’s decision could have major consequences for the future of Turkey.
“I want to be optimistic, but I have to say that Turkish political life is heading down a dead-end path,” KONDA polling company director Tarhan Erdem told DW. “From this point forward, we will not be able to estimate what will happen in society. That is to say, Turkey has embarked on an unforeseeable process.”
Erdem points to Erdogan’s increasingly dictatorial tactics, including punishing journalists and academics who are critical of the Turkish government.
“If a president imposes his own will without changing the constitution, it means that Turkish democracy has begun to lose all it has gained. The president needs to immediately return to the boundaries laid down by the constitution,” he says.
“What we are going through cannot even be described in words.”
It has been suggested that even sultans of the former Ottoman Empire followed law and order more stringently than does the increasingly embattled Erdogan.
“If you look at Erdogan, everything he says instantly becomes law. Every day, Erdogan is taking steps toward a one-man regime,” Erdem says.
“From now on there is only one man in Turkey – and that man is Erdogan.”
Former Turkish justice minister and constitutional lawyer Hikmet Sami Turk agrees, telling DW that Davutoglu’s resignation could spell troubling times for the future of the country.
“It is becoming increasingly clear with every event that Erdogan lacks impartiality. He intervenes in government tasks. He is acting like the de facto AKP leader. He is completely disregarding the constitution,” he said.
“In Turkey, there is an Erdogan problem and this problem will continue to grow.”
On the shortlist for Davutoglu’s replacement are three candidates: Transportation Minister Binali Yildrum, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak. Of those, one is a close friend of Erdogan while another is the president’s son-in-law.
“Without a separation of powers you cannot have democracy,” Turk adds. “In Turkey, we are facing an imposed presidential system. In the process ahead, all of the pains of the transition to a one-man leadership will be experienced more intensely.”