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Sweeping power for Erdogan

Jun 25,2018 - Last updated at Jun 25,2018

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just won a new five-year term after securing outright victory in Turkey’s presidential elections. He will now enjoy sweeping new powers in line with the constitutional changes that were subject to a controversial referendum last year.

While Erdogan won elections in a democratic way, many pundits suspect that Turkey is on its way to becoming an autocratic state. Under the rule of a president with massive prerogatives, Turkey may descend into an autocratic state. Furthermore, Erdogan’s opponents claim that the man will not recognise any limits to political power. Under the new constitutional amendments, the president could appoint the government, dissolve the parliament, pick a prime minister from his own party and interfere in the policy of the central bank. Besides, the president will most likely be immune from prosecution. Hence, it will be hardly possible to impeach him.

His critics, from within and from without, do not trust Erdogan to be a fair leader. But, the majority of his people do. His supporters, for instance, back him as a president with sweeping power simply because they trust him to lead Turkey through stormy economic times and a tumultuous regional environment. His leadership over the last decade and a half has paid off. He has been successful in positioning Turkey on the world map. In other words, his achievements speak for him.

It remains to be seen how President Erdogan conducts himself in years to come. Of course, his victory is not a bank check for him to do whatever he wishes. Despite the new far-reaching prerogatives, Erdogan will suffer if he does not deliver.  We all know that he called for snap elections to achieve two goals: First, to take the opposition off guard, second, to avoid the impact of the deteriorating economy. His ploy worked. However, soon people will be looking to Erdogan as the one in charge to navigate through hardships to achieve the national desired goals. Short of delivering on these goals, Erdogan will run the risk of losing status and the next elections.

Perhaps, the first test to his new presidency revolves around the way he is going to deal with internal issues. First and foremost, he did not win a landslide victory. If anything, his narrow electoral triumph means that almost half of his people neither trust him nor want him to succeed. Needless to say, Turkish people cannot be controlled as others in the third world countries. When they opposed the coup, they did not do that because they wanted Erdogan, but because they prefer democracy over any other value. To be sure, Erdogan took advantage of the failed attempt to score counts with his political opponents. Turkey’s record in violating basic human rights issue is documented. 

His success depends on his interpretation of the new electoral triumph. If he fails to adapt checks and balance the system, his autocratic tendencies may mobilise public opinion against him. Therefore, he should not be oblivious to this basic rule of the thumb.

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