In early November, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag presented the government’s blueprint for a new constitutional order to the Parliament. It includes proposals to transfer responsibility for appointing Cabinet members from the prime minister to the president, and to eliminate the power of the Parliament to influence personnel decisions by means of votes of no-confidence and censure motions.

The general expectation is that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will contest the 2014 presidential election if the powers of the office are expanded as envisioned under the government-backed proposal. However, both the CHP and the MHP are fiercely opposed to a reform that would, in all likelihood, enable Erdogan to remain the country’s dominant political figure for several more years, a prospect that also makes the proposals unpalatable to ambitious younger leaders within the governing AKP.

The constitutional reform push could also be stalled by President Abdullah Gul, who has, in recent months, engaged in varying degrees of public sparring with the prime minister. This has fueled speculation that Gul might challenge Erdogan for the presidency if the proposed changes are approved.

The gulf developing between Gul and Erdogan should be noted as a potential risk to government stability in 2013. For the most part, the pair’s differences thus far have been a matter of style, rather than of substance. But the possibility that the rivalry could become an impediment to (or, at the very least, a distraction from) implementing the government’s policy agenda cannot be ruled out. Moreover, while there are no immediate threats to the AKP’s grip on power, further setbacks to Erdogan’s push for constitutional reform could exacerbate factional rifts within the party.

Elsewhere, the recent conviction of dozens of military officers accused of participating in a plot to topple Erdogan’s government back in 2003 has raised questions about the independence of the judiciary and concerns about the erosion of the rule of law in Turkey. Such considerations will hardly dampen European doubts about the country’s fitness for eventual membership in the EU, and could hamper efforts to attract foreign investment for large-scale development projects


The PRS Group
About The Author The PRS Group
The PRS Group is a leading global provider of political and country risk analysis and forecasts, covering 140 countries. Based on proprietary, quantitative risk models, the firm's clientele includes financial institutions, multilateral agencies, and trans-national firms.

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