How Turkey's President Erdogan has maintained a tight grip on power in the country

2023-06-02 21:25:48, Kosova & Bota CNA

How Turkey's President Erdogan has maintained a tight grip on power in the

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an increasingly authoritarian populist, will be sworn in and begin his third presidential term on Saturday. He won the election in a runoff, which took place on May 28.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has led Turkey as prime minister or president for 20 years, won despite the country's ongoing economic crisis and criticism of his government's poor response to an earthquake in February that killed more than 50,000 people.

Known as "reis" or "the boss" among his supporters, the 69-year-old Mr. Erdogan is now the longest-serving leader in the history of the Turkish republic. His re-election to a five-year term that runs until 2028 extends his rule into a third decade, and he could possibly serve longer with the help of a friendly parliament.

Here's a look at Erdogan's career and some of the reasons for his political longevity.


Many experts agree that Turkey's dire economic problems result from Erdogan's unconventional fiscal policies — most notably, cutting interest rates against rampant inflation, despite economists' warnings. However, the majority of voters - he received 52% of the runoff vote - did not seem to be swayed by this fact. Inflation in Turkey reached 85% in October before easing to 44% in April

Erdogan's resilience amid a cost-of-living crisis –– may have resulted from many people preferring stability to change as they struggle to pay high prices for rent and essential goods.

The president has demonstrated an ability to strengthen the economy in the past. And he has never shied away from spending and deploying government resources to his political advantage.

Over the past two decades, his government has spent a lot of funds on infrastructure to please voters. In the run-up to last month's parliamentary and presidential elections, he raised wages and pensions to soften the blow of inflation and approved government subsidies for electricity and gas.

A point of pride for many voters is Turkey's growing military-industrial sector. Throughout the campaign, Mr Erdogan frequently mentioned domestically produced drones, aircraft and a warship known as the world's "first drone carrier".


Erdogan has drawn many Turks to his side with the way he acts on the world stage. Supporters see him as a leader who has shown that Turkey can be a major player in geopolitics while playing an independent role as it engages with the East and the West.

Turkey is a key member of NATO due to its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and it controls the alliance's second largest military. During Erdogan's tenure, the country has proven to be an indispensable and, at times, troublesome NATO ally.

The Turkish government has blocked Sweden's entry into NATO and bought Russian missile defense systems, prompting the United States to remove Turkey from a US-led fighter jet project. However, along with the United Nations, Turkey brokered a vital wartime deal that allowed Ukraine to resume shipping grain across the Black Sea to other parts of the world struggling with hunger.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed his re-election, which came as the country prepares to mark the centenary of the republic, as the start of the "Century of Turkey".


Erdogan has cultivated deep loyalty among conservative and religious supporters by upholding Islamic values ??in a country that has been ruled by secularism for nearly a century.

He has reined in the strength of the military, which often meddled in civilian politics whenever the country began to deviate from secularism. He lifted rules that banned conservative women from wearing headscarves in schools and government offices.

He also restored Istanbul's historic Hagia Sophia into a mosque, fulfilling a long-standing demand by Turkish Islamists. The Byzantine-era cathedral was originally converted into a mosque after the conquest of Constantinople, but had served as a museum for decades.

More recently, he has criticized the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, suggesting they pose a threat to the traditional, conservative notion of what constitutes a family.


During his decades in power, Erdogan consolidated control over the media.

Most of the Turkish news media are now owned by conglomerates loyal to him. He has used his position to silence criticism and disparage the opposition.

International election monitors noted that the first round of presidential elections on May 14 and the runoff on May 28 were free but not fair.

While voters in the second round had a choice between genuine political alternatives, "biased media coverage and the lack of a level playing field gave an unjustified advantage to the incumbent," said Farah Karimi, coordinator for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Erdogan's opponent in the runoff election, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, had promised to undo the president's economic policies and return Turkey to a democratic path by ending the attacks on free speech./ VOA

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