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Erdogan Wins, Stays in Power As Turkey's President

29 Juin 2018

But both these goals are in doubt in the face of an energetic campaign by his rival from the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), Muharrem Ince, who has mobilized hundreds of thousands in mega rallies, and a strong opposition alliance in the legislative polls.

Dr. Manuel Almeida is a political analyst and consultant focusing on the Middle East.

Erdogan won 53 percent of the vote in Sunday's presidential vote, extending his rule until at least 2023 - with the sweeping executive powers that Turks backed in a referendum previous year. Yet even though he and his party already control most of the media and the messaging-Ince got less than one-tenth of the TV airtime that Erdogan enjoyed-the President managed just 52.5% of the vote. Putin and Erdogan have met several times in the past year and regularly speak on the phone. Nothing will stop him now from pursuing his abusive and blind ambition, as he can now exercise absolute power.

Erdogan has at times seemed on the defensive, making promises to lift the state of emergency imposed after the coup bid and ensuring the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey go home only after similar pledges by Ince. But early elections are a much riskier proposition today.

The existence of a vibrant political culture and strong opposition to the political monopoly of the country's long-term ruler were what separated Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey from Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation. Currently, almost all the print and online press along with radio and TV are controlled directly or indirectly by his cronies. Despite its many shortcomings, the election campaign showed how lively political competition still is in Turkey.

By 2022, when Erdogan's new term expires, he will have been heading the destinies of his country for two decades - he became de-facto leader in 2002 with the Justice and Development Party's (AKP) landslide victory in the general elections, and prime minister the following year.

After the vote, the HDP's European representative Eyyup Doru noted the legislative and presidential elections took place in a climate of tension and insecurity. If no economic catastrophe strikes within the next five years to re-empower the defeated opposition, the country's hybrid regime is likely to turn even more authoritarian by 2023 and the years of narrow victories will be over for Erdogan and, likely, his chosen successors. Let us hope he does not have to fight back from where many Erdoğan opponents have been locked up.

And fears of further violence and crackdowns in the country are growing.

"The winners of the June 24 elections are Turkey, the Turkish nation, the sufferers of our region and all oppressed in the world", he declared.

All governing institutions will be subject to his whims; he will have the first and last word on every matter of state with no challenge whatsoever. Erdogan can now issue edicts with the force of law and pack the courts with loyal judges.

Turkey's new ruling ideology will, first of all, make it practically impossible to return to the negotiating table for peace with the Kurds.

Despite being a leading North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, Turkey has entered into an understanding to buy Russia's advanced S-400 air defense system, in defiance of United States sanctions on Moscow.

This must also be seen in light of the fact that Erdogan has developed close and friendly relations with the West's staunchest enemies-Russia and Iran. However, Bahceli must be careful in pushing Erdogan, who has a penchant for undermining allies who push him too hard. "Turkey is experiencing a democratic revolution with this election", he added. Global election monitors question whether the election was free and fair, citing last-minute rule changes, the muzzling of opposition voices and the dominance of the "yes" campaign in the media.

Erdogan Wins, Stays in Power As Turkey's President