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Monday, June 25, 2018

Erdogan, too powerful to be true

Por Feco

After winning on Sunday the elections in Turkey with more than 52% of the vote, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is emerging as something extremely porwerful in the coming years. Even before these votes, the 64-year-old Islamist politician was the second most powerful man in the history of Turkey, only surpassed by the founding father of the nation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

With his new victory, Erdogan will assume a wide range of new powers approved in a referendum held in 2017 under his tutelage, which transform the presidency into an executive office of immeasurable scope, a role that, before him, was merely ceremonial. From now on, there will no longer be prime ministers in the White Palace of Ankara, since the office is eliminated. For you to understand the extent of it, Erdogan will be the only person in charge of the direct appointment of high public officials, including ministers, vice-presidents and judges.

He can intervene at his discretion in the legal system of the country, he will be responsible for the distribution of state budgets and it will be his personal decision if the entire nation follows or leaves the state of emergency that prevails in the country since the coup attempt of 2016. Little, hein? Apparently, there will be no power that he cannot control or supervise its management. According to his own announcement in which he proclaimed himself the winner, his Islamist party, the AKP, also won the majority in parliament, something that, when officially confirmed next Friday, will give him a freedom of movement and action never seen before in the modern history of the nation.

However, this does not stop there. Under the new constitution, not only will he head the government for the next five years, but it could also serve a new term from 2023, which would keep him in power for a decade, until 2028. Born in the port district of Kasimpasa, but raised near the Black Sea, Erdogan gained prominence in the incipient Islamic political movements that defied secular domination and thus came to dominate the city hall of Istanbul. In his long career for control of Turkey, he spent a season in jail, served 11 years as prime minister, survived massive protests and even a bloody attempted coup. In a decade and a half since his ruling party came to power, he had 14 elections: six legislative, three referendums, three local and two presidential votes and he won them all.

His followers, the conservative Muslim majority in Turkey, highlight how he brought the country to new levels of economic prosperity and ensured it as a respected state on the international stage. With his coming to power, Erdogan conquered the heart of his base when he removed the restrictions on religion in an officially secular state, led a vast infrastructure construction program that he called his "crazy projects" and implemented a more assertive foreign policy.

Its detractors point him out by orienting the country towards the economic crisis and towards what they consider a dangerous path to authoritarianism: with him as the center of the State, 90% of the press in their hands and their enemies in exile or in prison. The economy is, in fact, an Achilles heel of his present and future government: inflation has increased to more than 10% and a resounding fall in the value of the lira has left many families on the verge of misery.