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Turkey Elections
Erdogan's Presidential Power Play

Turkey’s powerful Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is running for President after twelve years in office. Although the Presidency of Turkey is supposed to be largely ceremonial, observers believe Erdogan aspires to hold on to power by changing the nature of that office. Frequent TAI contributor Henri Barkey analyzes the potential power play in the al-Monitor:

Once he assumes the presidency, the first six to 12 months are the most critical. Sometime after Erdogan resigns from the leadership of the ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will have to convene an extraordinary convention to choose a new party leader who will then get the AKP ready for national elections in 2015. Until then, the country will have a prime minister handpicked by Erdogan. This person will have none of the experience and power Erdogan has accumulated over the last 12 years. Therefore, it is not unrealistic to assume that Erdogan will shape and direct and constantly interfere in government decision-making.

Erdogan’s 12-month strategy is to engineer, de jure or de facto, as much of a transfer of power from the prime minister’s office to the presidential palace as he can. The size of the mandate is important because it will enable him to run roughshod over the party, parliament and weak interim prime minister. There is another reason why this period is critical to him: Abdullah Gul, the current president, who has increasingly fallen afoul of Erdogan, is the only person capable of assuming the reins of the AKP and making a play for the prime ministership in the 2015 elections.

Erdogan is favored to win the looming August 10 election, and to understand where his victory might lead, we recommend you read the whole thing.

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  • Curious Mayhem

    Here’s another nutcase that resulted from premature pressure to introduce multiparty democracy. In Turkey’s case, it was the EU, in the early 1990s, that put that pressure on, in order to prepare Turkey for full EU membership.

    This push was always a mistake. Turkey is not a European country. Voters and opposition politicians in EU countries wisely rejected this move. Unfortunately, the democratization drive allow the crypto-Islamic AKP to emerge, take power, and apparently evolve to the point where it can’t give up that power. The party is no longer a majority, but now a plurality, party. Nonetheless, we’re probably going to learn the hard way, again, about Islamic movements taking power through the ballot box: one man, one vote, once. That’s what happened in Gaza in 2007, when the Bush administration foolishly insisted on an election where the only alternative to the PLO/Fatah was Hamas. Hamas won, and there have been no elections since. Hamas views Gaza as a base of operations, nothing more. To them, Gazans are a supply of conscriptable labor and, when needed, human shields.

    The Turkish military used to be the “national” (as opposed to Islamic) institution that safeguarded Turkey as a modern, secular state. Its power has been eviscerated. Who can save Turkey now? Will Obama continue to swoon over Erdogan as the ideal of “democratic political Islam,” an oxymoron?

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