Elections favorite Erdogan promises “change” after 12 years in power
By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara
On August 10, will be held the crucial for Turkey presidential elections, but Turkish citizens living abroad began voting in specially designated areas in Germany, France and other countries in an election process, in which for the first time the Turkish citizens will directly elect the country’s president.
In Athens, the process is conducted at the Consulate of Turkey and those with a Turkish citizenship vote normally.
It is the first time that the Turks abroad participate in the electoral process of the country.
At the same time, 42 polling stations have opened in places of inland transit, airports and ports of Turkey, and will remain open for the voters who will choose to vote there.
In Turkey of 77 million people, about 53 million are eligible to vote, among them 2.8 million citizens living abroad. Until today, the president of Turkey was elected by the Parliament, but the regulation was changed after the revision of the Constitution in 2010.
The favourite in the elections is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who aims to go from the premiership to the presidency of Turkey and he promises a “new Turkey”, without however specifying how he will achieve such a thing, since he has been in power from 2002.
The Turkish Prime Minister knows that if he becomes president of Turkey with the current constitution, as president of the republic he will not have increased responsibilities, while the prime minister will continue to exercise the executive of the country.
For this reason in the AKP it is hotly debated the possibility of holding general elections after the presidential ones, in order to change the constitution of Turkey from Parliamentary to Presidential Republic.
The two major opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), have chosen as their common candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who has a big appeal to the voters of the ruling party, but the results of the polls so far show a landslide win by Erdogan.
The polling firm Sonar predicts that Erdogan will receive 53.3% of the vote, followed by Ihsanoglu with 38.4%, with the candidate of the pro-Kurdish party HDP, Selahattin Demirtas, coming third with 8%.
If none of the candidates receives an absolute majority, i.e. 50.1%, then there will be a second round of elections on August 24.
In the municipal elections last March the AKP had received 44% of the vote.
Erdogan if not elected in the first round, he looks forward to the support of the Kurds, with whom Ankara has begun discussions for the concession of some of their demands, while achieving a truce with the PKK. If elected president, Erdogan should immediately find a replacement for the premiership as this is a great enigma. The names being discussed is that of Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and even the Head of the Secret Service.
For current President Abdullah Gul to be able to be appointed Prime Minister he should first be elected to Parliament in the next national elections and then take over as Prime Minister. But he can take leadership of the AKP immediately, unless there is some last minute political “dribble” by Erdogan.