By Jared Malsin
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu resigned on Thursday in a dramatic move that clears the path for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to further consolidate his already extensive power. Davutoglu’s departure comes as Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials AKP) are preparing a campaign to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system of government with a presidential system, a shift that could cement Erdogan’s control of the Turkish state for years to come.
Regarded as a thoughtful and competent leader, Davutoglu replaced Erdogan as prime minister in 2014, more than a decade after the AKP came to power. Alongside Erdogan, he was a key public face of the party when it won a comeback victory in the country’s November 2015 parliamentary election, five months after the AKP had shocked experts by losing its majority in a previous election.
In a televised address announcing his resignation, Davutoglu hinted at recent problems with Erdogan, but seemed to accept his departure from power. “The fact that my term lasted far shorter than four years is not a decision of mine but a necessity,” he said,according to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper. He said he would continue his friendship with Erdogan “until my last breath.” He added, “The honor of our president is my honor. His family is my family.”
As prime minister, the more moderate Davutoglu had been the formal head of government in Turkey, but he was widely regarded as governing under the long shadow of Erdogan, the more ambitious and ultimately the more powerful of the two. With the former prime minister sidelined, analysts say Erdogan has removed one of his only potential rivals for power within the state.