Confrontation between Erdogan and ex-PM Davutoglu out in the open

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Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu recently criticized President Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), blaming both for being behind Turkey’s woes.

A former ally of Erdogan, Davutoglu co-founded the AKP party, previously served as its leader, and remains a high-profile member.

In a Facebook post, he complained that a security-based approach had replaced the party’s reformist spirit.

“Expanding the scope of freedom as soon as possible is a prerequisite,” he wrote. “Journalists, academics, leaders of opinion, politicians, and anyone who expresses their ideas should not be threatened with dismissal or defamation, or become a victim of social media.”

“Stamping different intellectual views as terrorism and considering political differences as treason is primarily detrimental to our national unity,” he added.

“It is unacceptable that security concerns turn into a situation in which, after the recent local elections, constitutional rights – like voting and running for office – can be taken away from those who have been dismissed from their public functions just after the state of emergency without a court decision,” Davutoglu went on. “I do not even want to think about what such long-term mood swings can produce, like administrative decisions and wrong practices. The constitution is a basic text for all, which cannot be interpreted within a mood.”

He attributed the AKP’s poor performance in Turkey’s March 31 local elections to policy changes and its alliance with nationalists.

The elections saw the AKP lose control of Ankara and Istanbul, both of which the party and its Islamist predecessors had governed for 25 years.

“The country and our party, which was established with our people’s tears, efforts, ideas, and emotions, cannot be sacrificed for the sake of … personal ambitions,” Davutoglu wrote.

He blamed “the presidency of the republic for taking a side in the election,” adding that participating in political polemics “disengages the office from at least half the country.”

He added that “the politics of alliance placed our party within a narrow political identity and language and harmed our special position, which is based on embracing all of our country’s areas and communities.”

The AKP formed an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in June last year, in which support for Erdogan’s party fell in spite of his victory.

The former PM said that his party’s members must come to terms with “the decline in the popular support and evaluate it wisely, especially with regard to the results of the municipalities elections of Ankara and Istanbul, which are important symbols of our movement and have been under the management of our cadres for a quarter of a century.”

He warned his party that political action is based on an essentially ethical system, but the latter “was damaged because of the discourse that was based on slogans, of preaching what was not practiced, which made citizens lose confidence in our rhetoric.”

Davutoglu also wrote that describing opponents as enemies in speeches, a practice that “exceeds the extent of political competition,” contributed to the recent assault on Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Ankara.

Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey’s main opposition party, was attacked by a crowd during the funeral of a soldier who was killed in fighting against Kurdish militants.

“It’s as a result of all this that we saw the hideous attack in Ankara during the funeral of a martyr which was supposed to unite all of us,” Davutoglu wrote.

The former PM also criticized the indiscriminate arrests of individuals with suspected ties to the Fethullah Gulen organization. “In this regard, it’s a must to protect the principle of individualization of punishment since it’s the law’s major principle,” he said.

He warned against nepotism in public administration. “Family members of politicians and government officials should not have a special advantage to benefit from state facilities.”

Instead, recruitment should be transparent and based on competence and qualifications, not on personal connections. “Some have forgotten that political action and leadership of the country is vested in the person who leads without the intervention of his family or his surrounding circle in decision-making. The use of social media, the recruitment of those who promote slander, distort any competition on the scene … is a betrayal.”

Davutoglu also stressed that Turkey needs a civil, democratic, and comprehensive constitution “more than ever.”

“I have conveyed my concerns and suggestions to our president via written and verbal requests. However, what we witnessed in the past phase justified my fears. Unfortunately, the model of the new presidential system does not meet the aspirations of our nation in terms of hierarchy or execution,” he said.

Davutoglu’s statement did not seem to affect the lira. The currency had weakened in early trade and stood at 5.8350 against the dollar, from a close of 5.8170 this week, according to Reuters.

The Turkish economy underwent a recession in the last quarter of 2018 following a currency crisis, which reduced the value of the lira by 35 percent since the start of the year.

“The main reason for the economic crisis is an administration crisis. Trust in the administration vanishes if economic policy decisions are far from reality,” Davutoglu said.

“Most dangerous is the emergence of a class that sees itself superior to our party committees, trying to run the party like a parallel entity, and excluding elected officials and committees in the party,” Davutoglu wrote.

He highlighted the urgency of addressing reports of government corruption, “such as public sector tenders without any notification, the appearance of exceptions in tenders that eclipse the entire law, and the implementation of certain projects by the state budget by the same people every time.”

“The economy cannot be re-established without re-establishing confidence. If a person lacks experience and information and is driven by personal nepotism and exaggerated self-confidence, the perception will remain forever unrealistic,” he added.

Ahmet Davutoglu held the post of prime minister between 2014 and 2016 until a feud with Erdogan compelled him to resign.

Opinions differ over the reason for the resignation, with analysts citing Davutoglu’s opposition to the constitutional amendments Erdogan wanted in order to shift to a fully presidential system rather than the parliamentarian one.

Later, the amendments were passed with an approval rate of 51.41 percent of the total vote.

Media outlets have repeatedly speculated over the past few years that prominent politicians, along with Davutoglu, have split from the AKP to form a new political party led by former Turkish President Abdullah Gul. The reports were confirmed by Davutoglu’s former adviser Atilgan Bayar, according to an article in Turkish newspaper Yenicag.

However, Davutoglu himself did not mention any such development in his Facebook post.

Instead, he stressed the need for reform. “I call on our party’s executives and relevant bodies to assess all these subjects and our future vision sensibly and with cool heads.”

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