Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a decisive victory in the elections Sunday, extending his 15-year reign and also cementing the sweeping powers he had long sought. Five takeaways from his election:
The President used to be a largely ceremonial post until last year, when voters narrowly approved a referendum (51% to 49%) to give the President sweeping executive powers, which Erdogan has already been exercising under a state of Emergency. Under the new system, the office of the Prime Minister will be abolished. The President will be able to issues decrees to form ministries and remove civil servants, without parliamentary approval. The cabinet will be made of presidential appointees rather than elected lawmakers.
Long run ahead
The referendum also allows Erdogan, now 15 years in office as PM and President, to run for a second term as President, and a third if he calls an early election. This opens the possibility that he could stay in office until 2032. Erdogan is on track to become Turkey’s longest-ruling leader, surpassing Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the modern Turkish republic after the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
Express Editorial | Erdogan, again
Critics are worried that all this will mean one-man rule. Since a failed 2016 coup, has seen a crackdown on lawyers, civil servants and journalists, with some 160,000 detained amid the Emergency. The New York Times quoted imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas as saying: “What you go through nowadays is only a trailer of the one-man regime. The most frightening part of the movie hasn’t even started yet.”
Demirtas leads the liberal HDP, which entered Parliament as Opposition. The required threshold is 10% of the vote, crossed by five parties. Erdogan’s AK Party will rule in coalition with the Nationalist Movement Party. “Parliament will be diverse, with the coalition system ensuring the representation of a wide range of parties…,” Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told The NYT.
Turkey & the world
The NYT report said the victory could affect cooperation within NATO and security in Iraq and Syria. Turkey has tested the NATO alliance by drawing closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, a struggling economy — the Turkish lira has shed 20% in the last year — could make Erdogan careful about antagonising the West.