The Turkish people are baffled with the current debate between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government led by Ahmet Davutoğlu. First, the president opposed the establishment of a delegation of monitors who would be keeping track of the peace process between Turkey's administration and the militant Kurds, which came as a shock to all political observers both at home and abroad. Then the president said he does not approve of the government making a joint declaration with the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) at the Dolmabahçe Palace where the sides announced a 10-point plan for negotiations for the peace and reconciliation process to advance and come to a positive conclusion. That further deepened the shock among political observers in Turkey and outside.
In return, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, also the government spokesman, spoke to the press and said while Erdoğan is entitled to his views, it is the government that takes the decisions and it is the government that will decide what course to take on the peace and reconciliation process. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan is more baffled than anyone else. He is a close aide of Erdoğan and he consulted with the president before he made the joint statement with the HDP people at the Domabahçe Palace. At the time Erdoğan reportedly warned Akdoğan "to be careful" as he had reservations about the way the peace process is progressing and the fact that he does not trust the militant Kurds. Akdoğan was shocked when he heard the president tell journalists he is totally against the declarations made at Dolmabahçe.
Those who do not understand the mechanisms of how politics has been functioning in Turkey for the past 12 years decided to take this as a rift between Erdoğan and the Davutoğlu government. In fact the issue is more to do with Erdoğan keeping a close watch over the pulse of the voters as Turkey heads for parliamentary elections in June and the government being run by politically inexperienced people who do not have a real grasp of what the voters like and dislike.
When he was prime minister, Erdoğan kept a close watch over the pulse of the voters through weekly opinion polls. He saw how the voters reacted to controversial issues and if they were to the detriment of the government he did not hesitate to abandon his stance with an honorable exit. Now Erdoğan continues to closely watch voter reactions to events and sees that the declarations made at Dolmabahçe and the fact that Turkey accepts monitors to watch over the peace process is costing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) some vital votes that will dampen the prospect of a hefty majority in the upcoming Parliament. Erdoğan sees that the AK Party will not gain any extra votes from the Kurds with moves to appease the militant Kurds while he also sees that the ruling party may lose some votes to the conservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Turkey's conservative majority is up in arms, saying too much is being given away to the militant Kurds in return for a questionable promise of laying down arms.
So Erdoğan has pressed the button and declared "one minute!" halting the ongoing process in its current state. He does not want to shelve the process but wants the pace to slow down and dissuade the government from taking any hasty decisions that will hurt the elections prospects of the AK Party.
All this puts Davutoğlu in a jam. He has to either bow to Erdoğan or follow the course of Deputy Prime Minister Arınç. It is easy for Arınç to talk, since he has no future political ambitions as he cannot seek a fourth term in Parliament. But Davutoğlu has much to lose.