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Will Davutoglu Become Architect of Turkey’s Domestic Policy as Well?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reza Solat
Ph.D. in International Relations and Expert on Turkey Issues

After many years of planning and clear organization, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party finally won the recent parliamentary elections of the country on May 7 by getting about 41 percent of the vote and wining 259 parliamentary seats. This time, however, its total votes were lower than previous elections. The question is what effects will future changes in the political system of Turkey have on planning, implementation and supervision of the country’s large-scale domestic and foreign policies by the Justice and Development Party on the basis of the party’s vision for 2023? I believe that the true winner of the recent elections in Turkey is the country’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and as a result of his skills in theorization and implementation of theories, he has the entire political playground to himself now.

The role played by Davutoglu in Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies is much more powerful than the role played by the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This is true as Davutoglu’s rational behavior can serve as a strong balancing weight to prevent other parties from choosing unilateral policies. Davutoglu has been a favorite of other parties that are rivals of the Justice and Development Party. By putting Erdogan in their crosshairs, those parties have practically provided Davutoglu with more maneuvering room. He will be under less pressure now because the pressure resulting from the Putinization model will be reduced. Now, Davutoglu, who was once considered as the architect of Turkey’s foreign policy, should serve to revive the past influence of the Justice and Development Party as well. It seems that as a first step, he will invite such moderate and democrat figures as Abdullah Gül, Bülent Ecevit, and Ali Babacan to the annual congress of the Justice and Development Party in a bid to change the party’s policy and get it close to the policy it followed in 2001.

The sixty-third Turkish government is expected to be inaugurated at a time that, according to official sources, its policies will pursue three main goals on the basis of participatory democracy and the rule of law. The first goal is to present a proactive foreign policy approach to be spearheaded by the country’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. The second goal is to solve the central government’s problem with the Kurdish population and putting more emphasis on the period of opening.

Turkey is so serious with regard to this issue that for the first time, resolution of the Kurdish problem has been officially put on the government’s agenda. The third goal is to make solid plans to have a production-based economy oriented toward creation of new jobs. In line with this goal, Turkey is planning to reduce reliance of its economy on foreign exchange, stock exchange and the interest rate (which actually amounts to usury) and adopt positive policies to encourage recruitment of manpower and solve the country’s joblessness problem. Therefore, Davutoglu is expected to launch a campaign against parallel structures in the country.

On the other hand, Davutoglu will try to lure opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People's Party, because the prime minister is well aware that it is almost impossible for Kilicdaroglu to form a coalition with Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, and Selahattin Demirtaş, the leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party. As a result, the Nationalist Movement Party and the People’s Democratic Party will play the main opposition role in the forthcoming parliament. Subsequently, not a coalition among opposition parties but the deal between the ruling Justice and Development Party and the opposition Republican People's Party will show the political finesse of Davutoglu.

Another point is that Davutoglu will continue to weigh on the country’s foreign policy as well. Perhaps, this has been a long-term plan by the Justice and Development Party to keep Davutoglu as the most effective and most important player in country’s foreign policy. The systemic approach of Davutoglu in addition to his firm belief that domestic policies of medium-sized countries like Turkey, which suffer from internal problems, can be facilitated as an extension of a successful foreign policy, will assign a more important role to him in determining the country’s policymaking mechanism.

On the other hand, in the field of foreign policy, Davutoglu is planning to not only continue his general principles and policies, but also to design and implement complementary policies. For example, Turkey is planning to embark on new investments and implement new projects in cooperation with other actors in third places and this is the plan which can get Kilicdaroglu and his Republican People's Party aligned with the Justice and Development Party.

On the whole, Davutoglu will get out of Erdogan’s shadow as a result of the recent election results, but will remain his close ally nonetheless. Davutoglu knows what problems the formation of a coalition government had created in past years. Therefore, under the present conditions he will pursue two main goals.

First, he will show a relative inclination toward the Republican People's Party or pay more attention to more moderate deputies in the Turkey’s parliament. Secondly, he will organize an early congress of the Justice and Development Party, which is expected to be held in coming days in an extraordinary manner, in order to take in former members of the party such as Abdullah Gül. Therefore, one must wait and see in view of the opportunity that has been offered to him, will Davutoglu turn into the architect of Turkey’s domestic policy as well and especially play a more important role in setting the policies of the Justice and Development Party? Let’s not forget that Davutoglu won many votes in parliamentary elections and having 259 out of the total 550 parliamentary seats can pave the way for him to implement many of his initiatives.

The past experience shows that the cabinet that Davutoglu will introduce will be an economy-oriented cabinet because Davutoglu had shown great interest in economic affairs both when he was an advisor to Erdogan, and when he was at the helm of the country’s foreign policy. Taking advantage of soft power and high intelligence theory in Davutoglu’s speeches following the elections show how satisfied the prime minister is with the election results.

Key Words: Turkey, Domestic Policy, Parliamentary Seats, Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Policies, Abdullah Gül, Bülent Ecevit, Ali Babacan, Justice and Development Party, Kurdish Population, Nationalist Movement Party, Selahattin Demirtaş, People’s Democratic Party, Abdullah Gül, Solat

More By Reza Solat:

*Turkey’s Parliamentary Elections, Springboard for Erdogan’s Ambitions?: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Turkey-s-Parliamentary-Elections-Springboard-for-Erdogan-s-Ambitions.htm

*Analysis of Upcoming Presidential Election in Turkey: Erdogan in for Possible Win: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Analysis-of-Upcoming-Presidential-Election-in-Turkey-Erdogan-in-for-Possible-Win.htm

*Protests in Turkey: A New Wall Street in Taksim Square: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Protests-in-Turkey-A-New-Wall-Street-in-Taksim-Square.htm

*Photo Credit: Hurriyet Daily News

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