Critics characterize Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a budding strongman. But is he starting to face pushback within his own party? Rumors are swirling that he’s facing increasing opposition from his hand-picked successor to the Prime Ministership, Ahmet Davutoglu—who was supposed to help Erdogan transform the Presidency into Turkey’s premier political position. As The Financial Times reports:
While Mr Erdogan has been campaigning almost daily for the establishment of the executive presidency, which he says would allow him to run Turkey like a business, Mr Davutoglu has remained strangely quiet on the matter.
Meanwhile, in a sign that Mr Erdogan’s tougher line on the Kurdish dispute may be prevailing, the Turkish military stormed hide-outs of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party on Tuesday.
Mr Erdogan and Mr Davutoglu have also been at odds over the independence of Turkey’s central bank—which the president has criticised but the prime minister has defended—as well as a push by Mr Davutoglu to bolster anti-corruption laws.
Erdogan may be a budding strongman, but he’s not there yet. He faces some significant challenges in the months ahead, most notably that the Turkish economy seems to be stalling out right before a vital election. Erdogan’s attempts to remedy the situation, namely to keep a building bubble inflated, have met pushback (notably, as the FT alludes, from his central bank). He is also balancing the Kurdish question and the conflagration in Syria.
If Davutoglu continues to thwart Erdogan, especially on those most sensitive issues, it could be far more of a problem for Turkey’s President than the disorganized and divided Kemalist opposition. But whether this truly is the PM trying to slow down Erdogan’s ambitions to remake Turkey in his own image (and, not coincidentally, drastically reduce the power of the Prime Ministership) or whether it’s just intra-party friction remains to be seen.