Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced Thursday his intention to resign from the post amid speculation of splintering within his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and reported differences with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Davutoğlu reportedly stepped down over disagreement concerning Erdoğan’s plans to change the constitution and consolidate the power of the presidency as analysts expressed concerns Erdoğan’s power was growing increasingly unchecked.
Erdoğan has aimed to shift the country away from a parliamentary democracy to one with a stronger executive role. Critics have said the proposed shift would give the role of president inordinate power and allow for an authoritarian government.
Recent moves by Erdoğan to crack down on freedom of the press — including allowing the sentencing of two journalists to two years in prison for the republication of a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad — fueled fears Erdoğan would lead with an iron fist if given the chance. Party leaders stripped Davutoğlu of his ability to appoint provincial leaders last week in a move that reportedly fueled tensions between the prime minister and the president.
“Davutoğlu’s likely early exit as party leader and PM constitutes another episode that shows that Erdoğan’s dominance over the AKP and the executive is absolute and unchallenged,” Wolfango Piccoli, head of research at Teneo Intelligence, told Reuters Thursday.
Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a close ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced his resignation https://t.co/IifMyQRCa0
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 5, 2016
Davutoğlu has denied claims personal differences with the president had been at the heart of his resignation, saying he and Erdoğan had always “stood shoulder-to-shoulder.” The resignation is expected to take place following a party meeting May 22.
“A strong [AKP] government will continue to lead for the next four years, and there should not be any doubts concerning safety and stability,” Davutoğlu said Thursday upon announcing his resignation.
The announcement comes just weeks after Davutoğlu helped negotiate a deal with the European Union to stem the flow of illegal migration between Western Turkey and Eastern Greece. Davutoğlu was pivotal in negotiations that exchanged a crackdown on smugglers for the ability of Turkish residents to travel in Europe short-term without a visa.