Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President of the Republic of Turkey
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Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President of the Republic of Turkey

HE Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the Prime Minister of Turkey for 11 years, winning three consecutive elections with a majority (2002, 2007 and 2011), before becoming Turkey’s first popularly-elected president in August 2014 and then securing a second-term in the 2018 election. During his terms, Turkey has seen unprecedented economic growth, constitutional reform, and a re-emergence as a major global power.
President: Erdogan secured 52.5% of the vote in the 2018 Presidential election (elector turnout was 86%), and thereby avoided a second round runoff. This was a continuation of his remarkable popularity and success at the ballot box over the past two decades. During his time as president he has pushed for more powers for his post, a move not welcomed by all, and criticised by many as signs of wanting excessive power. He has lost support from key members of his own party, and been criticized for cracking down on the media.
Failed Coup Ramifications: The failed coup of July 15 2017, which led to about 200 deaths, has led to huge ramifications as Erdogan looks to root out all those involved. He has squarely laid the blame of orchestrating the coup on Fethullah Gulen, and has led an all out attack on Gulen’s organisations and supporters. There has been a major crackdown on many sectors with about 160,000 civil servants being dismissed in various state institutions, with over half from the education sector. Also, 50,000 people remain in detention with this number continually rising as authorities press ahead with regular raids.
Global Relations: Under Erdogan, Turkey has focused on building stronger relations with all of its seven land-contiguous neighbours (especially Greece) and also all of those countries bordering the Black Sea (an important trading hub and a geopolitically significant area). In Africa, it has opened up over twenty new embassies and consulates and when Somalia suffered from a crippling famine and drought in 2011, Erdogan not only gave aid, but also became the first leader from outside Africa to visit Somalia in nearly two decades. While Turkey has about 45% of its foreign trade with European countries, it is developing strong trade relations with other regions and attracting investment from all over the world.
Bait-and-Switch? In July 2015 Turkey finally declared war on Da’ish after an agreement with the US. It immediately proceeded to bomb sites in Iraq and Syria that it said were PKK sites. Turkey was consequently accused by the Kurds and by some US officials of a ‘bait-and-switch’ ploy, using DA’ISH as bait to fight its old nemesis, the Kurds.
Challenges: Erdogan has been forced to deal with a number of complex situations on both national and international issues; on its relationship with the USA, on its partnership with Russia, on how to deal with Syria, DA’ISH, and Kurdish fighters, on the continual crack down on the Gulen movement, on dissent within his own AKP movement and now on how to deal with an economic crisis which has seen the value of the Turkish Lira fall by 50%. His dealings with these issues as well as the security of Turkey in the face of terrorist attacks are the major challenges facing him now.

Birth: 26 February 1954 (Age: 64)

Source of Influence: Political

Influence: President of 75.7 million Turkish citizens

School of Thought: Sunni, Traditional Sunni

Status: Featured in current year

Influence

The President: President Erdogan won 52% of the vote in Turkey’s first direct elections for president. This was a continuation of his remarkable popularity and success at the ballot box over the past decade. During his time as president he has pushed aggressively for more powers for his post, a move not welcomed by all, and criticised by many as signs of wanting excessive power. He has lost support from key members of his own party, and been criticized for cracking down on the media. In April 2017, a constitutional referendum passed by a marginal vote which grants the President broader executive powers.

Failed Coup Ramifications: The failed coup of July 15, which led to about 200 deaths, has led to huge ramifications as Erdogan looks to root out all those involved. He has squarely laid the blame of orchestrating the coup on Gulen, and has led an all-out attack on Gulen’s organisations and supporters.

There has been a major crackdown on many sectors with about 100,000 civil servants being dismissed in various state institutions, with over half from the education sector. Also, 20,000 people remain in detention with this number continually rising as authorities press ahead with regular raids.

Global Relations: Under Erdogan, Turkey has focused on building stronger relations with all of its seven land-contiguous neighbours (especially Greece) and also all of those countries bordering the Black Sea (an important trading hub and a geopolitically significant area). In Africa, it has opened up over twenty new embassies and consulates and when Somalia suffered from a crippling famine and drought in 2011, Erdogan not only gave aid, but also became the first leader from outside Africa to visit Somalia in nearly two decades. While Turkey has about 45% of its foreign trade with European countries, it is developing strong trade relations with other regions and attracting investment from all over the world. In January 2017, President Erdogan reiterated the “eternality” of Turkish presence in Cyprus, after receiving pressure to withdraw Turkish troops from the island.

Bait-and-Switch? In July 2015 Turkey finally declared war on Da’ish after an agreement with the US. It immediately proceeded to bomb sites in Iraq and Syria that it said were PKK sites. Turkey was consequently accused by the Kurds and by some US officials of a ‘bait-and-switch’ ploy, using Da’ish as bait to fight its old nemesis, the Kurds..

Challenges: Erdogan has been forced into a number of u-turns on both national and international issues; on its relationship with Israel, on its partnership with Russia, on how to contain DA’ISH, on how to deal with the Gulen movement, and on dissent within his own AKP movement. His dealings with these issues as well as the security of Turkey in the face of terrorist attacks are the major challenges facing him now.

Quotes

“There is not moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

“We are followers of a long established tradition which has, throughout history, considered social, cultural and religious differences as richness.”

Statistics

2nd – largest military standing force in NATO

52.4% – of the national vote in Turkey’s 2018 elections