The June 24 elections brought Erdogan as Turkey’s first executive president. He is the first president of the new system, whereby he will be able to appoint vice-presidents, ministers, high-level officials and senior judges. Under the new system, Erdogan has the power to dissolve parliament, issue executive decrees and impose a state of emergency. This new system came into being following a referendum led by Erdogan’s party, abolishing the Prime Minister’s role. Critics fear that this will further erode democracy and strengthen the one-man rule.
The European Commission’s chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said they hoped Turkey would remain a committed partner for the European Union on major issues of common interest such as migration, security, regional stability and fight against terrorism. The European Union had been closely following Turkey’s elections. It had been critical of the massive crackdown launched by Erdogan in the wake of a failed coup attempt against him in 2016. This had resulted in thousands of people arrested under a state of emergency.
European Union Not So Happy
In a joint statement, EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn warned that the new presidential system has far-reaching implications for Turkey’s democracy. “Turkey would benefit from urgently addressing key shortcomings regarding the rule of law and fundamental rights.” Turkey’s accession to full European Union membership is now in the doldrums.
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EU had struck a 1.8 billion Euro deal with its potential member candidate in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees into the continent. EU had opened accession talks with Turkey in 2005. At present negotiations have been stalled and treats it as a neighboring country than a candidate. German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted Turkey’s importance in solving Europe’s migration crisis and longstanding friendship.
An Authoritarian Leader
Erdogan has been in power in Turkey for 15 long years. From 2003 to 2014, he was the Prime Minister and now the President. Political scientists have described Erdogan as an authoritarian leader. He has silenced his challengers, jailed journalists, changed the Turkish constitution and survived a 2016 failed military coup which nearly resulted in his assassination. Turkey has been in a state of emergency since 2016 with thousands of people in jail awaiting trial, including nine Kurdish lawmakers.
The Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in a report highlighted that Erdogan had benefitted from excessive coverage by the state and private media. It also stated that the emergency laws had limited fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression. The organization further stated that the authorities needed to work to ensure that Turkey’s future elections were in line with democratic standards and commitments. Analysts are of the opinion that Erdogan will take a tougher stance on issues ranging from the fight against Kurdish militants to foreign policy. Erdogan will begin his Presidential term with a host of foreign policy dilemmas including Syria and frosty ties with the USA.
He won the Sunday’s elections outright with 52.6 per cent of the vote, an even better score than 2014.