Erdogan promise of stability wins vote
The re-election of the Turkish strongman during a state of emergency comes as no surprise in a country badly affected by regional strife and political turmoil
There are those in the West who fret about the re-election of Turkey’s long-standing leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He will serve with sweeping new powers gained in a constitutional referendum last year, prompting concerns among some for freedoms and rights.
But for the more than 52 per cent of the electorate who voted for him in a record turnout, he represents strength and economic and political stability. China was quick to congratulate him and understandably so; Turkey is pivotal to its “Belt and Road Initiative”.
Turkey is strategically positioned between Asia and the Middle East and Europe. Erdogan represents conservative Muslim leadership and has helped Beijing battle Islamic extremism.
Chinese investment in infrastructure projects and boosting trade will ensure growth and development, a welcome prospect with the Turkish economy and currency dipping after years of buoyancy.
The election ushers in an executive presidential system, which Erdogan has long sought to ensure stability after a series of terrorist attacks and a failed coup. His new powers will enable him to directly appoint top officials and judges, issue executive decrees and dissolve parliament.
The People’s Alliance, a partnership between his ruling Justice and Development Party and the smaller Nationalist Movement Party, will have a parliamentary majority.
Polls were held 18 months early under a state of emergency that curtailed protests and shut down most of the media that supported the opposition, prompting accusations that voting was unfair. Critics accuse him of having authoritarian tendencies, abetting corruption and eroding the rule of law and press freedom.
Turkey is one of Nato’s most important members and hosts US military aircraft. It has borne the brunt of the refugee crisis that has resulted from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
But moves for it to join the European Union have stalled and the fight against Kurdish separatists has been complicated by the US backing Kurdish fighters against Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.
Erdogan has been increasingly critical of the West and moved the country of 81 million closer to China and Russia. Representing stability and progress to a slim majority of Turks, he has understandably been re-elected.