Turkey’s president loves power first, metaphors second

Special to WorldTribune.com

The one thing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan enjoys more than a turn of phrase is the filet mignon of raw power.

Erdogan has had a voracious appetite for that red meat, moving quickly to shift the center of power in Turkey to the presidency, saying that the parliamentary system has outlived its usefulness.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

“No one has the right to turn Turkey into a country of lions condemned to a vegetarian diet,” Erdogan quipped on May 10.

Analysts say the president was comparing a lion subsisting on salad to a country running old software even though it’s got strong hardware.

“Turkey has changed its hardware from top to bottom thanks to big progress over the last 13 years. On the other hand, we are still trying to use our computer with a constitution which the 1960 and 1980 coups imposed on our nation – that is to say, with outdated software,” the president said.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) eyes a “mini constitutional change package” that would allow Erdogan to assume leadership of the ruling AKP in a transitional step on the way to an enhanced presidential system, presidential adviser Burhan Kuzu said in an interview with Bloomberg on May 10.

The June 2015 election, however, was evidence the Turkish people wanted change but not away from the parliamentary system, Davutoglu had said in what analysts noted was one of the first signs of disagreement with Erdogan. Davutoglu said upon stepping down that the decision to resign was not his own.

“We are faced with a constitution which has already turned into a rag bag with endless amendments and which has lost its completeness,” Erdogan said. If so, we should seek a way of greatly increasing our output by supporting the powerful hardware we have with software compatible with this. We need to approach the issue of a new constitution and presidential system just like that.”

To sum up, vegetarian lions and out-of-date software are the same as a “shirt that’s too tight,” to use another of Erdogan’s recent phrases.

Capital Economics’ Emerging Market Economist William Jackson said Erdogan’s latest metaphorical gems are “on a continuum with other expressions of his might, like the act of edging out his prime minister that sent markets tumbling last week. The lion quip is an attempt to seize the momentum after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s ouster and put constitutional reform back on the agenda.”

A “two-headed system of government” is rife with inefficiencies, Erdogan has said.

“The Turkish presidential system won’t be the same as that of the U.S. – nor will it have anything in common with the dictatorships of Africa. It’ll be unique to Turkey,” Erdogan insisted.

“Think of a bee going from flower to flower and creating a unique blend of Turkish honey.”

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