The current graft probe is a real challenge for PM Erdogan

One of the factors that had brought the AKP to power in 2002 was the perception that everyone else was corrupt.

Questions:

1. Politically, is this the real challenge for PM Erdogan or not and why?

2. Istanbul Prosecutor Muammer Akkas said that the government is obstructing a graft probe. Would you say that his is a real problem that government is interfering and trying to influence the whole case?

Answers:

Özgür Ünlühisarcikli, Ankara Office Director, GMFUS

1. This is obviously a real challenge for Erdoğan. One of the factors that had brought the AKP to power in 2002 was the perception that everyone else was corrupt. Now Erdoğan is facing a situation in which he needs to persuade the public that his party is clean from corruption just before three elections in a row: municipal elections, presidential election and parliamentary elections. He also needs to avoid appearing to interfere with the judicial process which he is having difficulty doing.

2. Not only Istanbul Prosecutor Aktaş, but also Turkey’s High Council of Judges and Prosecutors has complained about current problems with judicial independence in Turkey. This is a real problem that creates the impression among at least a significant part of the society that there is a cover up attempt.

Hüseyin Bagci, Professor, Chairman, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University

1. Yes, it is the most important political challenge for PM Erdoğan . The question is how is is going to master it or decline from power. Inside the country he lost confidence in the process and even his Presidential candidacy in danger. The local elections in March will show whether he cankeep his political strength. The cabinet change is important step but  can not stop the decline of his power. Many resignation will follow in the coming days.

2. Yes, this is the biggest problem of the government. ıt is against democratic rules and harming Turkish juridical system. The government tries to prevent the prosecutors  job and interfering in the whole process in order to influence the judiciary  is the biggest mistake. PM Erdoğan is not referred any more democratic leader but somebody WHO is trying to save his own skin in this process. I do expect more opposition both from the parliament and outside of the parliament. He lost the credibility and I think it will impossible to repair this political damage. Turkey is on the way to early elections  or political crisis in 2014. The situation is very gloomy for PM Erdoğan.

Kerem Öktem, Research Fellow, European Studies Centre, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford

1. This is a very real challenge indeed, at least for two reasons. First of all, because the allegations of corruption are of a massive scope and scale. They implicate some of the most important colleagues of the Prime Minister and suggest that the entire political economy of the AKP government in the last few years has become deeply corrupt. And corruption is a theme which many people in Turkey, as elsewhere, care about a lot. Secondly, because the corruption investigation is carried out by members of the judiciary who are close to the movement of Fethullah Gulen, the spiritual leader of a global Islamic network of businesses, schools and universities. The Gulen movement was on the AKP’s most important allies in the last decade. This investigation is a turning point, after which the two have become enemies.

2. It certainly is a serious interference, particularly when we consider that there is more to it. Almost all police chiefs of Istanbul and many other provinces and probably more than 400 members of the police force have been suspended so far. Some of them had contributed to the investigation. In addition, the government tried to enforce on the prosecutors a bye law that holds them (the prosecutors) responsible to inform the provincial governors (and hence the Interior Minister) of such investigations. This bye law, of course, goes against the grain of the separation of forces, as it makes it impossible to investigate senior government officials. The Council of State has annulled the bye law on grounds that it is unconstitutional. But the level of government interference has been shocking.

That said, the justice system itself is not necessary a very clean institution in Turkey and the way the investigation was publicised (leaking of evidence, incriminating photos, interrogation protocols) is not reconcilable with the principles of due process.

Over all, the situation is very blurred now, as the judiciary and the executive appear to be involved in a fight over the state. Neither side, whether the AKP or the parts of the judiciary involved in the investigation (and believed to be close the Gulen movement) is acting on the grounds of the rule of law and democratic governance. It is a rather foul play.

Dimitris Tsarouhas, Acting Chair, Jean Monnet Chair and Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Bilkent University

a) The PM is clearly on the defensive, and his recent Cabinet reshuffle was an attempt to buy time. It is not clear how he will be able to get out of this, if at all.

b) The allegations made show how high the stakes are: nothing less than the independence of the judiciary is currently at stake.

c) Should the pressure not subside quickly, early general elections in Turkey are very likely.

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One Response

  1. There is no democracy in Turkey, as a result of this, amongst many other things Turkey should not be allowed to join the EU.
    Tayyip is far too authoritarian.

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