Turkey went to the polls on June 24th in one of the most intensely fought election battles in recent years. In a country of 81 million people, 53 million are registered to vote and they decisively chose to re-elect President Recep Tayyib Erdogan with 52.54% over his main rival Muharrem Ince with 30.7%.
This was a snap election combining votes for both president and parliament and putting Erdogan himself as President and his AK Party (Justice and Development Party) firmly in command. As President, 64 year old Mr Erdogan will have sweeping new executive powers. The office of Prime Minister will be abolished and the Executive Vice President will not necessarily have to be ratified by Parliament. This completes his re-organisation of power after the failed coup in 2015 and will allow him to lift the state of emergency put in place following the attempted coup.
In his 3rd presidential election in as many years, Erdogan, has proved an astute and canny politician. He is a seasoned and clever orator who called for national unity in his final rally on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. “One nation, one flag, one state,” he said. “We will be united, we will be one. We will be great.
We will be brothers and sisters and most of all we will be one people,” he told a packed rally of cheering AK Party supporters.
Erdogan has promised to improved healthcare, including an undertaking to build more hospitals an upgrade infrastructure, including road tunnels to ease Istanbul’s notorious “big traffic” problem.
In the election the opposition to Erdogan achieved a degree of unity, led by Muharrem Ince of Turkey’s secularist CHP (Republican People’s Party), a charismatic challenger. Addressing
over a million supporters in Maltepe on Istanbul’s Asian side Muharrem also called for unity. He would be,” a president who embraces everyone. A president for everyone,” he said. “We will reach everyone and make Turkey a country of peace,” he concluded.
Before the election electoral pundits warned against underestimating the demand for greater democracy advocated by Muharrem and to be prepared for a second round of elections in July if no candidate won more than 50% of the vote. However, following June 24th’s vote, Erdogan remains President with even greater executive and legislative power than before.