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Erdoğan Sworn In As Turkish President With Enhanced Powers

Erdoğan Sworn In As Turkish President With Enhanced Powers

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Leader takes oath of office after winning snap election last month

Kareem Shaheen

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been sworn in for another term as president of Turkey, inaugurating a new political system that grants the leader vast powers.

Erdoğan, who has ruled Turkey as prime minister and then as president for 15 years, won a snap election last month with 52% of the vote.

“We make a promise once more to strengthen our nation’s unity and brotherhood and to continue making our country great and glorifying our state,” Erdoğan said after visiting the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish republic’s founder, in the capital, Ankara.

Erdoğan took the oath of office in a ceremony in the Grand National Assembly, the culmination of nearly a decade of political activism to transform the country’s parliamentary democracy into a presidential system.

His Justice and Development (AK) party and its ally the Nationalist Action party (MHP) hold a majority in the legislature. Their electoral victory paves the way for unrivalled control of the levers of the state by Erdoğan, whose critics have accused him of authoritarianism as he has moved with his party over the last few years to crush dissidents and intimidate critical media outlets.

The new system abolishes the post of prime minister, granting the president the power to appoint the cabinet – which he was expected to announce later on Monday – and unelected vice-presidents. Erdoğan will also have the power to appoint senior members of the judiciary and to issue decrees with the force of law.

Next Sunday is the second anniversary of a failed coup attempt in which 250 people were killed and 1,400 wounded. The coup was followed by a crackdown on members of the bureaucracy, judiciary, armed forces, police, media and academia, with more than 130,000 people dismissed from their jobs or arrested.

The crackdown has gone beyond the alleged perpetrators of the coup – followers of the US-based exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen – to encompass dissidents of all stripes. Turkey has become the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, and prosecutions of media personnel and civil society members have continued in recent months.

Observers had speculated that the purge might ease after the elections, but on Sunday the government issued a decree dismissing 18,000 state employees including teachers, police and military officers over alleged links to terrorist groups. A state of emergency in place since the coup attempt is scheduled to expire next week.

Turkey is expected to adopt an increasingly nationalistic line in its foreign policy with the conservative and Islamic-leaning AKP and the nationalist MHP in parliament. Erdoĝan has repeatedly clashed with strategic allies such as the US and the European Union in recent years over the war in Syria, Turkey’s accession to the EU, human rights abuses by Ankara, Europe’s failure to support Turkey during the coup attempt, and rising Islamophobia in Europe.

In a signal of those differences, 22 heads of state were scheduled to attend the inauguration, but none from western powers such as the US, Germany, France or the UK.

Empowered by a popular mandate on the back of a convincing electoral victory, Erdoğan will have to address urgent questions in Turkey such as the fate of more than 3 million Syrian refugees living in the country, the progress of the war across the border, a faltering economy and a weakening currency.(The Guardian)

 

This was earlier Published in print Edition of ‘ The Legitimate’

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