From the football fields of Kasimpasa to Cankaya Presidential Palace

From the football fields of Kasimpasa to Cankaya Presidential Palace


By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara

From the football fields and the alleys in the slums of Istanbul, to the highest office of the Turkish Republic. The story of Recep Tayyip Erdogan who announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Republic, impresses.

The pro-government newspaper Sabah writes: “for the first time the president of the republic will be elected by the people and a child of the people will come to this office”.

The element that raises questions is that Turkish voters still support Erdogan, who was shaken by the corruption scandals and his ministers and of his family and instead of losing voters, he has strengthened his political power. The restriction of democracy, the undemocratic way of dealing with demonstrators, the millions of dollars at his house for which he gave orders to “disappear”, it can be proof that has lost his popularity with the people, but this does not prevent many Turks from supporting him.

What political analysts observe, is that the Turkish Prime Minister has made the dream of the poor everyday Turkish citizen a reality. Without being part of the economic and military “elite” of the turkish society that ruled the country for decades, he came to power and says that “now the people govern the country”. Most of Erdogan’s ministers and colleagues are people whose families had nothing to do with power, hailing from the cities of Anatolia, they were educated and govern the country. This “dream” satisfies the Turks who believe that they can achieve the same without anyone from a certain cast of people excluding them because of their origin or their beliefs.

His greatest love… football

Born in 1954 in Istanbul, he graduated from a religious school and later studied economics.

In his youth he had two major avocations, politics and football. For 16 years he played football in the teams, Camialtı, IETT and Erokspor of the Third National division. He was regarded one of the good strikers.

At the same time he was involved with politics as a member and later chairman of local organizations of Islamic movements. He was working in the transport company of the city of Istanbul, but after the military coup of 1980 he chose to complete his military service as a reserves officer, while at the same time he married Emine Erdogan.

His mentor in politics is considered to be the founder of the political Islamic movement of Turkey, Necmettin Erbakan. In 1984 Erdogan by order of Erbakan became the president of the Welfare Party in Istanbul. He had two failures in 1986 and 1989 as a parliamentary candidate and candidate for Mayor of the district of Pera. He was not elected. But Erbakan supported him. With the rise of the rates of the Welfare Party in the 90s’, Erdogan’s “political shares” also increased.

In 1994, to the surprise of many Erbakan appointed him as a candidate mayor in Istanbul where he was elected. It was a great success. In 1999 he was imprisoned for four months on charges of “incitement of hatred in people” for a poem he read at a campaign rally in 1997. The Turkish “pashas” who wanted to stop his political activities, had made a big strategic mistake. With his imprisonment Erdogan was seen as a “hero” in the eyes of the everyday Turk.

O Erdogan had realized that with the image of the conservative political Islam he would not be able to get much higher rates, in order to come to power. Following the imposition of the ban on the political activity of his “mentor” he tried to take control of the party. When he failed, they parted ways.

Along with members of the “modernizing wing” of the Islamists, ie with Abdullah Gul and Bulent Arinc, in 2001 he founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which in 2002 became the first party and went on to rule the country, since it did not only speak about religion, but also promised “change”.

But because of his conviction in 1999 he was unable to become prime minister. Abdullah Gul took over as prime minister. A few months later, with the support of the opposition, there was a change in the Constitution which allowed the right to “be elected”, so he was elected in extraordinary elections in the city of Siirt and became Prime Minister.

They accuse him of being a “dictator”

“The Child” from Kasimpasa region, has become the longest serving Prime Minister of Turkey and with his possible election to the presidency he will continue to put his mark on the political life of Turkey.

The question that arises is how the Turkish Republic from parliamentary is converted into Erdogan’s “one man show», with all the disadvantages that derive from this and without someone capable of stopping him as he already controls everything and as a president he will always have the last word. The opposition has often accused of being a “dictator.”

The opinion polls show Erdogan

The presidential elections in Turkey will be held on August 10. There are three candidates: Erdogan, Ekmelediin Ihsanoglu, supported by the CHP and the MIP, and Selahatin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish HDP. The polls show that Erdogan “touches” the 51% needed to be elected president of the Republic in the first round. If he does not succeed the second round of the elections will be held on August 24.

In the ruling AKP many wonder what will happen in the post-Erdoğan era. Scenarios indicate that the next conference will be held in October in order for the current president Abdullah Gul, whose term ends in late August, to take over the leadership of the party. After the parliamentary elections of 2015 AKP is still expected to be the first party and Gul will become Prime Minister. In the meantime however, no one knows who will take over the duties of prime minister. This will be determined by Erdogan when he climbs the Cankaya hill in Ankara, where the presidential palace is located.