Turkey’s Pariah President


The Republic of Turkey has been a turbulent democracy since its very inception. The country has witnessed a number of coup d’état and continuous military dominance over elected governments resulting in limited civilian liberty, rare tolerance for dissent and utter disregard to the rule of law. It was in the year 2002 when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power with the promise and apparent determination to strengthen democracy, rule of law and freedom in the country which gave hope to the people. For all the fairness and honesty, Turkey stands now where the AKP had promised to. The credit must go fully and exclusively to the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for setting the country on this new path. He had been Prime Minister of the country for the three consecutive terms since 2002. The people of Turkey deserve all the credit for acknowledging the services of Erdogan by electing him President in Sunday’s presidential election. No one should feel any anxiety because of this as Erdogan is the person who has led Turkey for the past 15 years and single- handedly transformed Turkey into a serious actor in world politics. Under Erdogan’s watch, Turkey’s military has been sidelined from its traditional role in politics through a series of controversial trials. The country has also become an economic power, and Erdogan’s constituency of religious conservatives benefited greatly through higher incomes and better public services. The economy has tripled in size since the Erdogan administration came to power in 2002. As the rest of the world suffered from the 2008 economic crisis, economic growth and development in Turkey continued unabated. AKP policies over a decade have improved the country's infrastructure and raised living standards significantly. The high-speed rail system he built includes a recently inaugurated line from Ankara to Istanbul that halves travel time from seven hours to 3 1/2. Meanwhile, inflation — historically at dizzying three-digit levels — has come down to single digits, allowing many Turks to buy their first homes using a new mortgage system. This is why Erdogan continues to enjoy widespread support. He won squarely for his economic policies and developmental work. Now Erdogan would be the country’s first elected President. Erdogan has got around 52% of the polled votes giving him a clear mandate for being president of the country for next five years. Media reports suggest that Erdgan attracted a substantial chunk of nationalist and secular voters as well. Erdogan was criticized by his detractors for his Islamic views. But the accommodation and progressiveness, Erdogan adopted while functioning as prime minister of the country had popularized him beyond political beliefs. The speech he made after winning elections at his party headquarters in Ankara is there to say what sort of president he is going to prove. “I will not be the president of only those who voted for me. I will be the president of 77 million. I will be the president who embraces all with affection. Today, no one should have the feeling that they have lost, as Turkey’s future is brighter than yesterday. The direction of the nation is much brighter than yesterday. I want to build a new future with an understanding of societal reconciliation, while considering our differences as our richness and bringing forward our common values,” he said addressing thousands of supporters gathered at the party headquarters to celebrate the victor. The inclusiveness in his style of functioning has compelled his critics in western countries to shower praise on him. He could definitely prove as a role model for many rulers in Muslim countries, who are grappling with crisis of credibility and performance.