Turkey’s general election looks likely to push Tayyip Erdogan’s dream of an all-powerful presidency further from his reach, and usher in a period of turbulence as its most divisive modern leader jockeys to maintain his dominance.
Barred by the constitution from party politics as head of state, Erdogan has nonetheless campaigned across Turkey before the June 7 parliamentary vote in a sign of how much he has riding on the outcome.
“You will not take me away from these stages, you will not silence me,” he told a rally in the central city of Kirikkale this month, explaining why the presidency should get greater powers.
Constitutionally, most authority has lain with the Turkish prime minister, an office Erdogan held from 2003 to 2014. But since becoming head of state last year, he has pushed hard for an executive presidency akin to the United States or France.
However, the AK Party which he founded looks unlikely to win two thirds of the seats in parliament, the majority needed to change the constitution without putting the plan to a referendum.
A referendum is also beset by problems. The Kurdish opposition, once seen as a possible ally on a new constitution if it also boosted Kurdish rights, has come out against a stronger presidency.
Erdogan’s polarizing style of leadership, which alienates those Turks who are suspicious of his conservative Islamic ideals, means he is unlikely to persuade the secularist opposition CHP or the nationalist MHP to back his plans in a popular vote.
The election has therefore taken on almost existential importance for Erdogan, who has tightened his grip on the judiciary, police and media in recent years. Should the AKP’s majority weaken, the aftermath will be marked by his struggle to keep control.
“Erdogan is aware that every passing day his power is being eroded, that’s why he is pushing so hard for the presidential system,” said Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based EDAM think-tank and a visiting scholar with Carnegie Europe.
“What empowers him is the existence of that prospect. Once that is no longer realistic, the balance of power will start to turn against him.”
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر