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  • » 08/12/2014, 00.00


    An uncertain future awaits Turkey after Erdogan's presidential victory

    NAT da Polis

    With 52 per cent of the vote, most Turks are betting again on a strongman who rules in an authoritarian style and uses instrumentally their vote. Divisions within the opposition helped his success. Although he promises to be the president of all, he will have to deal with the economy and the demand for civil rights.

    Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Early surveys were confirmed. Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be the first popularly elected president of the Turkish Republic, a state founded in 1923 on the basis of the secular ideas of Kemal Ataturk.

    About 52 per cent of the electorate chose again Erodgan's style of politics. Based on an authoritarian and arrogant use of power, and an instrumental use of popular support, such a style is equally informed by contempt for those who think differently.

    Erdogan's support is found among a majority of Turks, mostly devout Muslims and conservative, who began to share in the spoils of political and economic stability, which until recently only the Kemalist establishment enjoyed, that Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) provided since they came to power in 2002. And, as they say in Turkey, AKP politics are in the hands of Erdogan and Allah.  

    The silent majority that represents the real Turkey is found in central Anatolia, as opposed to the west coast, which more and more oriented toward different values.

    In his first statements after his victory, Erdogan said that will be the president of all 77 million Turks. He also noted that whilst he allowed Kurds to speak their dialect, the country's only language is Turkish. What is more, "Not just Turkey but Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus, Gaza, Aleppo, Bosnia, Skopje, Hamas and Jerusalem won today. The state and the real nation have become one." This confirms the neo-Ottoman pretentions of the "sultan" Erdogan.

    Erdogan's propensity of dealing with those who oppose his political views with contempt and arrogance -using authoritarian methods such as blocking of Twitter and YouTube that tend to rouse opposition among those who are hostile to his authoritarian vision of politics - does not bode well. Indeed, his campaign was full of contempt and insults for his rivals, and not a real political programme.

    With 52 per cent of the vote, Erdogan becomes the 12th president of Turkey, the first elected by universal suffrage. Nevertheless, according to some respected Turkish commentators, this result hides the divisions that run deep in Turkish society.

    The rift between two major opposition parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), is one of them. As such, it was an instrumental in preventing them from presenting a single candidate.

    In fact, Erdogan maintained his votes, whilst many (about 1.8 million) of the 4.5 million votes lost by the two opposition parties went to Selahatin Demirtas, a Kurd who ran for the Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP). The other 2.8 million voters abstained. Demirtas ran on a platform to transform Turkish society outside of its traditional framework.

    Erdogan's dream is to arrive to 2023, the centenary of the founding by Kemal Pasha of the Turkish Republic; however, he is facing a big obstacle, namely the economic and social needs of Turkish society.

    In fact, Turkey requires a growth rate of at least 6 per cent within a balanced macroeconomic programme. However, a long-term economic framework requires a liberal democratic legal system and a sensible foreign policy, which Erdogan's authoritarianism certainly does not provide.

    Now the opposition has a great responsibility, namely come up with alternative policies that can appeal to Turkish voters.

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    See also

    09/08/2014 TURKEY
    Erdogan set sights on Turkish presidency, after a campaign of insults
    The electorate seems unfazed by allegations of corruption against the prime minister, his staff and family. The weak alternative of secular Kemalists, who candidate a Muslim. The novelty of a Kurdish candidate.

    01/06/2015 TURKEY
    Erdogan’s campaign centred on Islam and nationalism
    As head of state, he is constitutionally barred from party politics. However, he is holding rally after rally appealing to conservative Muslim voters. A video from the ruling party released to commemorate the conquest culminates with the Muslim call to prayer being recited from a minaret at Saint Sophia, which is now a museum.

    27/02/2014 TURKEY
    Erdogan's mad idea for president: turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque
    Made many times but never kept, the promise to reopen the Halki Theological School is another of the prime minister's mad ideas. So far, his ambitions have been hampered by his own authoritarian streak, allegations of corruption made against him, and the Gezi Park protest movement. Now Erdogan's aim is to get at least 40 per cent of the vote in next month's elections.

    08/07/2014 TURKEY
    As presidential elections loom, Turkish police launch investigation into Gulen
    The Hizmet movement of Erdogan’s great opponent is accused of working to forcibly take control of the state by distorting the existing constitutional order. Police asked to investigate if Hizmet is an armed group or had a role in a series of murders that have rocked Turkey in recent years.

    05/08/2014 TURKEY
    Erdogan, the new caliph, frontrunner in presidential elections
    The prime minister is given an edge over secular leader Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas. On Sunday if no one gets an outright absolute majority, a runoff will be held on 24 August. Many fear Turkey's islamisation and a concentration of power in the new president's hands.

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