Sun 28 May 2023 10:21 pm - Jerusalem Time

Erdogan is an invincible president

After two decades in power, the outgoing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 69, seemed threatened by the repercussions of the economic crisis and his monopoly on power, but he won Sunday evening the second round of the presidential elections in the face of opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu (74 years), leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP). democratic socialist).

"Our nation entrusted us with the responsibility of ruling the country for the next five years," Erdogan said after his victory in Istanbul in front of his supporters.

"These elections showed that no one can attack the gains of this nation," he added.

The official Anatolia news agency reported that Erdogan won 52.1 percent of the vote, compared to 47.9 percent for his opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, after counting about 99 percent of the ballot papers.

And he ran in the second round, Sunday, from a position of strength, after obtaining 49.5% of the vote, compared to 45% for his competitor Kilicdaroglu in the first round.

Neither imprisonment nor mass demonstrations nor even the coup attempt in 2016 succeeded in stopping the rise of the president. But he faced harsh criticism because of the state of the Turkish economy and the anger of the survivors of the devastating February 6th earthquake, who were left to fend for themselves in the first days after the disaster.

Erdogan brought about a profound transformation in Turkey through massive infrastructure projects that included the construction of highways, airports and mosques, and a foreign policy open to East and Central Asia at the expense of Ankara's traditional Western allies, whom he tried to court after he came to power.

Despite Western aversion towards him, the war in Ukraine allowed him to return to the forefront of the diplomatic scene thanks to his mediation efforts between Kiev and Moscow, in addition to his obstruction, about a year ago, of Sweden's entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

However, Erdogan's opponents accuse him of authoritarian tendencies, especially after the coup attempt that took place in July 2016 and the constitutional amendments in 2017 that expanded his powers.

Erdogan is often portrayed in the West as a sultan clinging to the throne. But the man who is nostalgic for the Ottoman Empire and who built a palace of more than a thousand rooms in Ankara continues to present himself as a man of the people in the face of the "elites".

He relied on this image to win every election since his Justice and Development Party took power in 2002. But he faced political tremors, especially when the opposition deprived him of his parliamentary majority in 2015, and then took away the presidency of the municipalities of Ankara and Istanbul in 2019.

Although slow at times, Recep Tayyip Erdogan still manages to hold eight meetings in one day, displaying his rhetorical abilities, citing nationalist poems and Quranic verses to excite the crowds.

Erdogan was born in the popular Qasimpasa district of Istanbul and was looking forward to becoming a professional soccer player, which he practiced for a short time, before moving into politics.

He learned the origins of the political game within the Islamic movement that was led by Necmettin Erbakan, then he was pushed to the fore with his election as mayor of Istanbul in 1994.

In 1998, he was sentenced to imprisonment after he sang a religious poem, in an incident that contributed to strengthening his position.

He had the opportunity to take revenge when the Justice and Development Party, which he co-founded, won the 2002 elections. The following year he became prime minister and remained in this position until 2014 when he became the first Turkish president to be elected by direct universal suffrage.

Erdogan, who is married and has four children, remains, in the eyes of his supporters, the only one capable of "confronting" the West and steering the ship through regional and international crises.

But since large anti-government demonstrations were violently suppressed in the spring of 2013, Erdogan has become the figure facing the most criticism in Turkey.

The president faced the most severe test on the night of July 15-16, 2016, during a bloody coup attempt.

And imprinted in the mind the image of a pale-faced Erdogan, making an appeal to the people that night through a mobile phone screen, and then his triumphant arrival at the old Ataturk Airport in Istanbul at dawn, announcing the defeat of the putschists.


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Erdogan is an invincible president