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No room for Gul in Erdogan's Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans for the presidency do not involve power sharing, but pushing Abdullah Gul out of the political realm entirely bodes ill for Turkish democracy.
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (C), Sports Minister Cagatay Kilic (L) and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu (R) pray during the funeral ceremony of Besiktas Sports Club honorary president Suleyman Seba in Istanbul August 15, 2014. Former Turkish national soccer player and Besiktas Sports Club's honorary president Seba died on Wednesday at age 88 in Istanbul. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION OBITUARY SPORT SOCCER) - RTR42K5U

Until very recently, forecasting Turkey’s near future was very fashionable for anyone who stepped on Turkish soil. The most common question directed by pundits to their Turkish counterparts was whether a Putin-Medvedev sort of swap was likely between Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who would ascend to the presidential seat, and Abdullah Gul, the current president who would step down to assume the post of prime minister.

The question reflected wishful thinking. Especially the Westerners, who do not want to see their ally Turkey drifting into one-man rule under Erdogan, were trying to calm their nerves by saying that a sober Gul would serve as a formidable check and balance to a maverick Erdogan. Given the camaraderie between the two leading figures of Turkish politics, “a Putin-Medvedev-type swap” sounded reasonable and seemed likely following the presidential elections.

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