Turkey PM To Quit, Handing Even More Power To Erdogan: What This Means For Turkey

Yesterday when we reported on the dramatic plunge in the Turkish Lira, which crumbled the most since 2008 on a report that a denied AKP party convention was going to take place, we predicted that this means a resignation of PM Davutoglu, who having been caught in a bitter power struggled with president Erdogan would likely resign, we said "if the convention is confirmed, it means that Turkey is about to be swallowed in yet another bitter political crisis, which will likely result in Erdogan concentrating even more power, unless of course he is stopped which in turn would meat more rioting, more civilian casulties, and even less media freedom to describe one nation's collapse into a despotic, authoritarian state."

An uneasy meeting between president and PM on Wednesday signalled the latest events

Moments ago Davutoglu's resignation was confirmed, and as BBC reports, "Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says he will stand down at an extraordinary congress of his ruling AK Party later this month."

The result has been a dramatic surge in Turkish Lira volatility, which as shown in the chart below just jumped the most in the past decade.

The BBC adds that speculation about his resignation has been rife since Mr Davutoglu met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. He is long thought to have disapproved of Mr Erdogan's plans to move Turkey to a presidential system of government. He announced his resignation after holding talks with party leaders. The congress would be held on 22 May, he said.

Earlier on Thursday, presidential aide Cemil Ertem said there would be no snap elections following the appointment of a new leader. He also told Turkish TV that the country and its economy would stabilise further "when a prime minister more closely aligned with President Erdogan takes office". In other words, just as expected, this was merely Erdogan's latest move to concentrate even more power in his hands.

For those who have not been following this latest Turkish scandal, here are the basics.

Why is this happening now?

After he was elected president in 2014, Mr Erdogan hand-picked Mr Davutoglu to succeed him as head of the AK Party (Justice and Development Party). But the prime minister's unease with Mr Erdogan's plans to move to a presidential system, among other policies, has been evident in recent months.

In a sign of his weakening influence, Mr Davutoglu was stripped last week of the authority to appoint provincial AK Party officials.

What will this mean for Turkey?

The development comes at a time of increasing instability for Turkey, which is tackling an escalating conflict with the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), attacks by the so-called Islamic State, and an influx of migrants and refugees.

Turkey is also in the midst of implementing a key deal with the European Union, brokered by Mr Davutoglu, to limit the number of refugees flowing across its border in return for accelerated EU accession talks and financial aid.

The future of that agreement, which Mr Davutoglu was seen as having agreed with little input from the president, could be plunged into doubt by his departure.

Who will be his successor?

Among those tipped as successors to Mr Davutoglu are Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, who is close to Mr Erdogan, and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is the president's son-in-law.

They will be formally elected at the party congress.

What has been the fall-out?

The political uncertainty has rattled the financial markets. The Turkish lira suffered its heaviest daily loss on Wednesday, down almost 4% against the US dollar. It rallied slightly on Thursday but was still well off its previous trading levels.

What does it mean for Erdogan?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is arguably the most formidable politician since modern Turkey's founding father Ataturk. After 11 years as prime minister, he was elected president in 2014 - but under a parliamentary system, in which his role should be largely ceremonial.

The fiercely ambitious Mr Erdogan is intent on changing that to a presidential system, which he says would make Turkey function more effectively, but which would also significantly increase his powers.

As president, he chose a prime minister who he thought would be pliant: the ex-foreign minister and bookish former academic, Ahmet Davutoglu.

But it seems he miscalculated. Seeing wavering public support for a presidential system, realising that he would be significantly sidelined should it materialise and disagreeing with Mr Erdogan on a growing list of policies, the prime minister has quietly dissented.

There has been little public show of disobedience, no clear spat. That's not Mr Davutoglu's style. Nor is it likely, given the widespread fear of Mr Erdogan within the ruling AKP.