After more than 20 years in power, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing a difficult challenge to stay in power, in the presidential and parliamentary elections that Turkey will be witnessing tomorrow, Sunday. Today we face a new test, after the rise in inflation and the decline in the value of the Turkish lira, and then the human and economic catastrophe caused by the earthquake that struck the south of the country on February 6.
Erdogan, who succeeded since the beginning of his rule in leading the country to an economic, industrial, commercial, tourism and scientific shift, and strengthened its political role abroad, which made him enjoy a large popular support that allowed him to “reduce” the role of the military establishment, and overcome the coup attempt against him in the summer of 2016, and impose a presidential system that enabled him By tightening his powers, he collided with the trap of inflation, which exceeded 85 percent last fall, at its highest level since 1998, which reflected negatively on the Turkish people and led to a significant rise in prices.
Erdogan’s attempt to expand Turkey’s regional and international role made him clash with many Arab and European countries and even the United States, especially in light of the military intervention in Syria and Libya. However, after relations with many countries have been strained over the years, Ankara has recently resorted to a policy of re-normalizing relations with the outside world.
From football to politics
Erdogan wants to crown his career by completing more than a quarter of a century of rule by winning the presidential elections tomorrow, Sunday. The first round, unless only two candidates remain in the race.
Erdogan was born in 1954 in Istanbul, and his origins go back to the city of Rize on the Black Sea. He finished high school in 1973, after which he studied at Marmara University in the Faculty of Economic Sciences, from which he graduated in 1981.
Erdogan belongs to the conservative Islamic movement. He played football as a young man before entering the world of politics. He was active in the Turkish National Students Union. He headed the youth branch of the Islamic National Safety Party in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul in 1976, and later headed the youth branch of the party in Istanbul until 1980. .
In 1994, he was elected mayor of Istanbul, marking his actual launch and increasing popularity in the country.
After the parties were closed after the 1982 coup, he stopped political work, to return to politics again with the establishment of the Welfare Party, and was chosen as its president in Istanbul and a member of the central leadership. In 1994, he was elected mayor of Istanbul, marking his actual launch and the increase in his popularity in the country, as Erdogan achieved successes in the municipality that increased his popularity. Because he recited religious poetry in 1997, he was tried in prison and his presidency of the Istanbul municipality was terminated, which increased his popularity even more. He remained in prison for 4 months, to go out and found in 2001 with his friends the Justice and Development Party.
In the 2002 elections, the party assumed the reins of government in the country until the present time continuously, in a rare case in Turkey’s political history. Erdogan assumed the premiership in 2003 after the removal of the political ban against him, then the presidency of the country in 2014, and he was elected again in 2018 according to the new presidential system.
Huge economic and urban projects
Erdogan is credited with his success in pushing the country towards development in all economic, industrial and commercial aspects, and his work to launch huge projects across the country and develop institutions and infrastructure, in addition to defense industries. Erdogan built bridges, highways, airports, the third Bosphorus bridge, and the first nuclear power plant, which opened a few days ago.
In 20 years, Turkey has witnessed the construction of more than ten million homes, a number “more than half of what was built in all European Union countries combined during the same period,” said Melih Yeshilbag, professor of sociology at the University of Ankara, to “Agence France Presse.” The Turkish economy has witnessed great prosperity since Erdogan came to power, which allowed for improving the conditions of the poor, providing electricity and water supplies, increasing per capita income, distributing wealth, spreading health care, and building schools and medical care centers.
He was subjected to a coup attempt by members of the army in 2016, which he managed to thwart
Erdogan also worked to expand his popularity within the conservative street, especially with the decision to allow women to wear the veil in universities and in public office, in addition to building hundreds of mosques in the country. Erdogan sought to limit the army’s interference in political affairs, and confronted the service group that is pervasive in state institutions.--
He was subjected to a coup attempt by members of the army in 2016, which he managed to thwart, and after that he worked to arrest and prosecute thousands of members of the military establishment. He also changed many laws and amended the constitution, including the country’s system of government, which transformed it from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.
fall into the inflation trap
Externally, since 2005, he started talks to achieve Turkey’s accession to the European Union, a step that was later stalled. Erdogan sought to expand his country’s influence abroad, politically and militarily, and foreign policy witnessed fluctuations, especially with his neighbors and the Arab countries, from Syria to Egypt, Iraq, Greece and some Gulf countries. However, about a year and a half ago, he began efforts to achieve reconciliation with most of these countries. As for the Ukrainian conflict, he managed to maintain relations with Kiev and Moscow, and offered himself as a mediator between them, without angering his NATO allies.
He failed to maintain the stability of the economic situation, especially with the high inflation rates
However, Erdogan failed to maintain the stability of the economic situation, especially with the sharp increase in inflation and the decline in the price of the Turkish lira, and prices rose, and the government seemed unable to control the decline in the living situation.
Erdogan tried to remedy this situation, while working to raise wages for employees, and make promises to achieve them in the next stage, including making the Turks benefit from newly discovered oil projects and providing free gas. Throughout the election campaign, Erdogan mobilized his supporters in the squares, especially in the major cities, and managed to mobilize more than 1,700,000 citizens during a large rally in Istanbul on May 8.
Opinion polls recently conducted contradict the percentage Erdogan will get in the elections. Optimar gave him more than 48 percent of the vote in the first round, 51.4 percent in the second round, and Arida Survey gave him 51.1 percent. And the company, “Guynar”, gave him a rate of 54 percent.
On the other hand, the “ORC” poll showed that he would receive 44.6 percent, 43 percent according to “Eurasia”, and 45.8 percent according to “Aksoy”. Faced with these polls, Erdogan insists that the real poll is in the field, as he believes that there is a great popular turnout, which was evident in the mass gatherings he held.
The toughest challenge is to stay in power
On this, writer and journalist Gungor Yavuz Aslan told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Erdogan “was able to continue ruling for 21 years, has great ability to manage the state, and was able to confront a military coup, in addition to overcoming many political and economic crises, and Despite the local, regional and international developments, he managed to win the elections, and emerged from each election with a stronger personality.
Aslan pointed out that “one of Erdogan’s strengths is his potential in rhetoric, his influence on the street and the masses, and the organization of his party bases, while his weaknesses are represented in fatigue after a long period of rule.” He pointed out that Erdogan is focusing in his election campaign within the Republican Alliance “on the spirit of the people and the strength of the state and the development of a discourse on Turkey’s centenary, especially with regard to defense industries, energy, oil and gas discovery, marches, tanks and warships with strong defense titles, and it represents stability and continuity for the country.”
Odeh Oglu: Erdogan faces the most difficult challenge since the beginning of his twenty-year rule, but he maintains the support of a large segment of the street
As for the researcher in Turkish affairs, Taha Odeh Oglu, he told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “Erdogan faces the most difficult challenge since his twenty-year rule, but he maintains support from a large segment of the Turkish street, and the biggest evidence is the great Istanbul rally on May 8.” . He expected Erdogan to be “the most likely to win, especially since he has charisma that plays a major role, in addition to the achievements he presented and was able to prove to the street that he is the man of difficult tasks with regard to the economy and internal and external files.”
He pointed out that “a week ago, there was talk of a convergence in the lineage between Erdogan and Kiljdaroglu, and a while ago there was talk of the latter’s progress, but in recent days there has been an effort by the two men, especially by Erdogan, to resolve the presidential elections from the first round.” However, he expected that “there will be a second round and Erdogan will decide it, especially in light of the mistakes made by the opposition, and any party that commits fatal mistakes at this stage is the losing party,” noting that “the Republican Alliance has experience in managing this stage.”