International

Erdoğan wins, acquires new powers

An Erdoğan supporter celebrating in Istanbul on Sunday.

An Erdoğan supporter celebrating in Istanbul on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Jeff J Mitchell

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Turkey has adopted a ‘one-man rule’ says opposition candidate Muharrem İnce following results

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won sweeping new executive powers on Monday after his victory in landmark elections that also saw his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its nationalist allies secure a majority in Parliament.

 

Mr. Erdoğan main rival, Muharrem İnce of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), conceded defeat but branded the elections ”unjust” and said the presidential system that now takes effect was “very dangerous” because it would lead to one-man rule.

‘No retreat’

Mr. Erdoğan, 64, the most popular — yet divisive — leader in Turkey’s modern history, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters there would be no retreat from his drive to transform the country, a deeply polarised nation that is both a NATO member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union (EU).

He is loved by millions of devoutly Muslim working class Turks for delivering years of stellar economic growth and overseeing the construction of roads, bridges, airports, hospitals and schools.

But his critics, including human rights groups, accuse him of destroying the independence of the courts and media freedoms.

Mr. Erdoğan and the AKP claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections after defeating a revitalised opposition that had gained considerable momentum recently and looked capable of staging an upset.

“It is out of the question for us to turn back from where we've brought our country in terms of democracy and the economy,” Mr. Erdoğan said on Sunday night.

Voter turnout was high, at nearly 87%. The High Election Board (YSK) declared the elections “healthy”.

The vote ushers in a powerful executive presidency backed by a narrow majority in a 2017 referendum. The office of Prime Minister will be abolished and Mr. Erdoğan will be able to issue decrees to form and regulate Ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval.

“The new regime that takes effect from today is a major danger for Turkey... We have now fully adopted a regime of one-man rule,” Mr. İnce told a news conference.

His secularist CHP won 23% in the new Parliament and the pro-Kurdish HDP nearly 12%, above the 10% threshold needed to enter Parliament.

Critics say that campaigning took place under deeply unfair conditions, with Mr. Erdoğan dominating media coverage in the run-up to the vote, and his opponents getting little air time.

The HDP’s presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, campaigned from a prison cell, where he is detained on terrorism charges he denies. He faces 142 years in prison if convicted.

State of emergency

The elections were held under the state of emergency imposed shortly after the 2016 coup, in which at least 240 people were killed. Mr. Erdoğan has said he will soon lift the state of emergency.

The MHP takes a hard line on the Kurds, making it less likely that Mr. Erdoğan may soften his approach to security issues in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey and neighbouring Syria and Iraq, where Turkish forces are battling Kurdish militants.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said that, based on unofficial results, the AKP and its MHP ally would hold 343 seats in the 600-seat Parliament — 293 of those for the AKP and 50 for the nationalists.

The main opposition CHP will have 146 seats, the pro-Kurdish HDP 67 and the breakaway nationalist Iyi Party 44.

Congratulating Mr. Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin “stressed that the results of the vote fully speak of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s great political authority (and) mass support of the course conducted under his leadership...” said the Kremlin.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg congratulated but stressed the alliance, of which Turkey is a member, “is based on some core values: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty.

Referring to Mr. Erdoğan’s victory speech in which he said that Turkish voters “taught the entire world a democracy lesson”, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that “Turkey is in no position to give other countries lessons in democracy when the (Kurdish) opposition leader has been in jail for a long time”.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 5:29:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/erdoan-wins-acquires-new-powers/article24255977.ece

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