Jul 18 2019

Erdoğan asked me to keep a low-profile as prime minister - Ahmet Davutoğlu

Turkey’s former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Thursday that during his term, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had asked him to serve as a prime minister without using the official powers of the post.

Davutoğlu, who was sidelined by Erdoğan in 2016 and resigned from office, answered the questions of Turkish reporters in a television programme streamed online.

“Act like a prime minister, but do not use your powers, do not even appoint the provincial heads of your own party,” Davutoğlu said about his term in the office. “This is what the president and the members of the party’s central board asked from me. What was asked from me was to act like some sort of a low-profile prime minister,” he said.  

The former prime minister published a long manifesto criticising the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Facebook in April, after the AKP faced major losses in local polls on March 31. He said the AKP’s reformist, liberal ethos had been replaced in recent years by a more statist, security-based approach that was driven by concerns about preserving the status quo.

“I do not accept two things. To remain inside (the party) in silence or leave the party in silence,” he said, adding that he would continue to criticise the AKP as a member. 

The former prime minister said Ali Babacan, the former deputy prime minister, had chosen a different method and resigned from the party. “I respect everybody’s decision. But I will keep on addressing those issues by also experiencing the sadness inside (the party),” he said. 

Speculation has mounted for months that Babacan and Davutoğlu are planning the launch of new political parties that could draw defectors from the ruling party. Babacan’s resignation from the AKP is widely regarded as a significant step towards the creation of a new, centrist pro-Western party.

According to Davutoğlu, the last resort would be to establish a new political party. He said that he had not been acting together with Babacan and the former President Abdullah Gül, because the duo had not announced clearly their plans to form a breakaway party. 

“We passed from a flawed parliamentarian system to a flawed presidential system. I also have a share (of the blame) in that,” Davutoğlu said in relation to Turkey’s new executive presidential system that was approved in a referendum in 2017. 

The former prime minister said that he had wanted to share his opinions on the new system before the referendum, but that the media outlets he had reached had declined to invite him.