Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu has resigned in the wake of a conflict with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Davutoglu announced that he would step down as premier and bow out of the upcoming elections for leader of the Justice and Development Party on May 22.
“I decided to step down from my post,” Davutoglu commented during a televised news conference in Ankara after a meeting with the Justice and Development Party’s central committee. “I have never negotiated or bargained with anyone… I am not planning to become a candidate in the upcoming [party] elections.”
Erdogan founded the Justice and Development Party, which has led Turkey since 2002. Davutoglu has served as the prime minister since 2014. Many believe that Davutoglu stepping down as prime minister means a weaker parliamentary system and stronger presidency in Turkey. Erdogan has been pushing harder recently against perceived opponents and his relationship with Davutoglu became strained. The president and prime minister disagreed on economic policy and pretrial detention for dissidents and just last week, the Justice and Development Party removed the prime minister’s authority to appoint party officials.
“Having mandated [Davutoglu’s] resignation… Erdogan is now head of state, but also de-facto head of government and head of the AKP,” Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said. “That does not seem to have satisfied Erdogan’s urge to consolidate political power in his hands… Never before in this system has one person amassed so much power in his hands as Erdogan has.”
Turkey has experienced a number of political crises recently, including attacks from Islamic State militants and negotiations with the European Union on how to handle the recent influx refugees. Davutoglu recently discussed securing a deal with European Union leaders about which refugees would be returned to Turkey in exchange for refugee aid and visa-free travel for Turks in Europe. Turkey is currently hosting almost 2 million refugees from Syria and other countries.