Tayyip Erdogan emerged as a dominant victor in Turkey’s two-faced electoral match, as he surpassed the 50% +1 he needed to be re-elected President of the Republic of Turkey with the new system of governance, while at the same time having the majority in Parliament through the AKP’s co-operation with the nationalist MHP.
Since 2002, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has never known defeat in any election. He became the first party leader to win three consecutive elections (2002, 2007, 2011), became the first President to be elected by the people (2014) and the first President of the Presidential Republic of Turkey (2018) after the constitutional amendment referendum of 2017.
One would expect that after 16 consecutive years in power, either as Prime Minister or President, there would be some kind of fatigue in the electorate from his continued presence, translated in loss of votes, but this did not happen in the latest elections. On Sunday, June 24, 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the presidential election in Turkey boosted his rates from the 2014 elections by almost one percentage point, or else received 5 million votes more than in 2014.
The figures of what Erdogan has accomplished in the 16 years of his presence in the political scene of Turkey are impressive. The AKP, the party founded by Erdogan, came to power in 2002 with 34.28%, winning six consecutive elections until 2018.
Of course, all this time there was no shortage of accusations against him, for nepotism, corruption, co-operation with ISIS, autocracy and anti-democratic behaviour. He even the central figure in election campaigns outside his country, such as the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. He is perhaps one of the few leaders with sworn supporters and sworn enemies.
Whatever anyone can say about Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he can not easily doubt his leadership, rhetoric, political intuition, the ability to move according to the circumstances of the moment and his vision for Turkey.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has developed a special relationship with the people. He listens to the majority and acts accordingly, as his associates have pointed out to IBNA. He does not come from the elite of the political system, but is one of the ordinary citizens. His speech, which is understandable, emotional and full of vision, as it appears from the result touches the average voter who ultimately gives him victories in election.
As mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan managed to pragmatically address the city’s problems, with new infrastructure and modernization of the old ones. Since taking office as Prime Minister he has worked towards upgrading the road, air, ports and road networks, while also strengthening entrepreneurship, making Turkey a transit hub for people and goods. His vision is making Turkey a country modern and friendly to its inhabitants.
In 2002, when the AKP took office, Turkey’s GDP was just USD 200 billion and under IMF supervision. Erdogan managed to get out of surveillance while skyrocketing the country’s GDP to USD 850 billion, joining the group of the 20 most powerful economies in the world. The per capita income in Turkey rose from USD 9,000 in 2002 to USD 24,000 in 2016, changing the lives of its citizens.
The great social inequalities between the costal areas of Turkey and the interior of the country were a big bet for Erdogan. In addition to creating infrastructure in these areas to enhance the daily lives of citizens, he has also shaped a new framework of freedom and security for citizens. It may not be understandable in the western world, but Erdogan has freed the use of the hijab that had been banned by the Kemalist regime; a move that strengthened his profile to the religious Turks. The restructuring of the insurance system and the free access to public or private health benefits for the over 65s was a pivotal change for the everyday life of citizens. Last but not least, one must not ignore the state’s change of attitude during Erdogan’s rule in relation to the minority groups living in Turkey, returning to them rights they had been deprived of.
The strengthening of the role of Turkey
The growth achieved in Turkey during Erdogan’s rule as Prime Minister and its inclusion to the G20 strengthened the country’s international role. Its extroversion in foreign policy and its sometimes successful and other times failed attempts to become a leading country in the Islamic world, established it as an equal interlocutor on the international political scene, something that did not go unnoticed by the citizens who saw the “third-world” Turkey upgraded geostrategically.
Fight against terrorism – Refugee crisis
Undoubtedly, Turkey has played a decisive role in the fight against terrorism, being a victim of terrorist attacks that killed many hundreds of Turks. Of course, it is not without part in the Syrian War, which has established terrorism. In 2016, Turkey suffered 16 terrorist attacks, causing not only security problems for its citizens but also economic collapse in the tourism sector, having an impact on its overall economy. Overall, however, Turkey’s attitude and its commitment of human and material resources in the fight against terrorism contributed significantly to the victory against ISIS. One must also bear in mind the efforts made by Turkey in the reconstruction of the areas destroyed by the presence of terrorists.
Lastly, we should point out the solidarity shown by the Turkish government with the Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey. Currently more than 4 million are housed in south-eastern Turkey, and more than 1 million have joined the social structures of the country.
Of course everything is not rosy in Turkey, but from the perspective of the positive agenda, one can understand why Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains the leader of Turkey and continues to emerge as a winner in elections, whoever his opponent is./IBNA