Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Thursday his intention to step down from his post as the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party. The move reinforces the position of the President of the Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and highlights his grip on the country.
The decision made by the Prime Minister shows that the president of the republic is the one who actually runs the country after six months of trying to “indirectly rule” through his close aide Davutoglu. It has been reported that Davutoglu was asked to step down after he failed to amend the constitution in order to establish a presidential system, and that he complied instantly.
Turkish sources believe that the step taken by Erdogan gives a good indication of the next phase that the country will undergo. It will be difficult for any person who succeeds Davutoglu to deviate from the path that Erdogan has mapped out for him. In addition to this, Erdogan has indirectly transformed the political government into a semi-presidential system so that he can fully control the positions of the prime minister whilst he waits to establish a presidential system which will allow him to rule the country directly. However, this requires the approval of a constitutional amendment that still faces many obstacles.
While party leaders of the main opposition in Turkey describe the resignation of the Prime Minister as “a coup led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” sources at the Prime Minister’s office told Asharq Al-Awsat that there isn’t a personal problem between the two men, but they acknowledged that “there has been an almost daily battle between the two men’s advisers for the last six or seven months which affected some of the decisions that Davutoglu made.”
Davutoglu’s resignation was preceded by a referendum that was held within the ruling party two weeks ago to narrow down the potential candidates to lead the party and the government. The current Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ came first, MP Binali Yildirim came second, Mehmet Ali Sahin came third, Government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus came fourth and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law came fifth.
Davutoglu said that he will continue to serve the Turkish people from within the ranks of the AK Party as a member of parliament, and pointed out that he bore no anger against anyone, and pledged his loyalty to the president.
He said: “I have not, and will not utter a single word against the president, and I will not allow anyone to take advantage of this issue.” He also acknowledged that “the decision to resign came after consultations with the president.”