How Erdogan came to power in Turkey
From mayor to deputy and from prime minister to president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan rose through the ranks to the highest positions in Turkey, and then made them his own, bringing the country closer to one-man rule within 20 years.
On Sunday, Mr. Erdogan will try to get another presidential term, but only after the opposition forces him to take part in the second round of voting. The fact that the elections have gone to a second round is a sign that his grip on the country has waned. if not brokenamong many problems such as economic turmoilwidespread corruption and his government’s treatment of catastrophic earthquakes This spring.
But Mr. Erdogan has managed crises since the early days of his career, including imprisonment, mass protests and an attempted coup. Some of these episodes illustrate how he not only survived the crisis, but found opportunities to consolidate power Through them.
Lifetime ban that lasted several years
In 1998, Erdogan, then the 44-year-old mayor of Istanbul, was a rising star in Turkey’s Islamist political movement, which was the target of repression by the military-backed authorities. In the same year the court convicted him for calling for a religious uprising by quoting an Islamist poem from the 1920s. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and given a lifetime ban on political activity.
Despite being predominantly Muslim, Turkey was founded as a secular republic, and Islamists were anathema to those values by traditional political elites.
Mister. Erdogan spent four months in prison, making plans to return despite the ban. As a result of a general amnesty in 2001, the Turkish Constitutional Court overturned the ban, and it soon formed a new political party with other reformists from the Islamist movement who promised good governance and sought ties to the West.
Allies who changed the rules
Mister. Erdogan’s ascent was nearly halted in 2002 by the Turkish Electoral Commission, which forbade him from the election due to his criminal record. But his party colleagues, who broke into parliament, amended the constitution let him run. Mister. Erdogan won the post and became Prime Minister in 2003
His government also started prosecution some of these figures in 2008 accused dozens of people, including retired army generals and journalists, of trying to stage a coup. Mister. Erdogan’s allies called the trial an attempt to reckon with Turkey’s history of violent power struggles. Critics called it an attempt to silence secular opposition.
With voter approval in a referendum two years laterMister. Erdogan has remade the constitution again. He said the 2010 overhaul brought Turkey closer to European democracies and broke with its military past, while his opponents said it gave his conservative government more control over the military and the courts. He won third term as prime minister in 2011.
The mall that sparked the protests
Mister. Erdogan had significant, if fragmented, opposition. IN 2013, protests erupted over the proposed mall instead of an Istanbul park, it turned into a demonstration of discontent on many issues, including a bias towards Islamist politics and persistent corruption.
Mister. Erdogan hacked, not only at protesters, but also at medics, journalists, activists, business owners and officials accused of sympathy. Some cultural figures went to prison, others fled, and many who remained an atmosphere of self-censorship.
When his term of office was coming to an end, G. Erdogan faced a problem: the rules of his party did not allow him to become prime minister again. In 2014, instead, he ran for another office – become the first popularly elected president of Turkeyopening his term with words of rapprochement.
“I want us to build a new future with an understanding of social reconciliation, seeing our differences as our wealth and promoting our shared values,” he said in his victory speech.
But instead of limiting himself to the largely ceremonial duties of that role, he expanded his powers to include the power to veto legislation and the ability to appoint judges.
The transformative consequences of the coup
Mister. Erdogan’s rule nearly ended in 2016. chaotic rebellion parts of the military and members of the Islamist group that had once been his political ally tried to overthrow him. But he escaped capture, called on the Turks to protest in the streets, and soon re-emerged in Istanbul to regain control.
“What is happening is a riot,” he said. “They will pay a high price for their betrayal of Turkey.”
A delete The events that followed changed Turkey: thousands of those accused of involvement in the conspiracy were arrested, tens of thousands lost jobs in schools, police stations and other institutions, more than 100 media outlets were closed. Most of those under the purge were accused of belonging to the Gülen movement, the Islamist followers of Fethullah Gülen, the cleric accused by Mr. Erdogan of coup while living in exile in the US.
Within a year, Mr. Erdogan staged another voter referendum, this time on whether to abolish the post of prime minister and turn power over to the president, and give the role more power.
As his opponents came under pressure and his allies perked up, he almost won the referendum, calling changes necessary to make the government more efficient. Next yearhe won re-election for another five-year term.
Blitz of decrees and growing discontent
A few hours before it opening in 2018Mister. Erdogan published a 143-page decree that changed the way almost all government departments work. He fired another 18,000 civil servants and made several important appointments, appointing his son-in-law as the new finance minister.
The decree was just one sign of how far Mr. Erdogan has taken Turkey on the path to strong rule. The government announced new internet restrictions and started monumental projects – including soaring bridges, a huge mosque and the plan of the “Istanbul Canal”.
Many of Mr. Erdogan’s supporters hail such efforts as far-sighted, but critics say they are fueling a construction industry plagued by corruption and wasting public funds.
These frustrations have spread among many Turks in recent years. While Mr. Erdogan raised Turkey’s profile abroad and implemented major projects, the consolidation of his power caused some alarm and the economy suffered.
This is dissent weakened Mister. Erdogan controls the country.
In 2019, his party lost control of some of Turkey’s largest cities, only to contest the results in Istanbul. Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey ordered by-elections, a decision condemned by the opposition as a capitulation to Mr. Erdogan, but his party Lost this second vote also ended 25 years of dominance in Turkey’s largest city.
And now that his government is being criticized for Preparation earthquakes and the response to them, as well as the Turkish economy teetering on the brink of crisisMister. Erdogan insisted on basic expenses and lower interest rates despite inflation, leaving many Turks feeling much poorer.