What Erdogan’s re-election means for Turkey’s political system, economy and foreign policy


Supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan celebrate in Istanbul on May 28, 2023. <a href=AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File” src=” data-src=”/>

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been re-elected as presidentensuring that his tenure as Turkey’s leader will extend to a quarter of a century.

The electorate returned Erdoğan to power in a second round on 28 May 2023, with 52% of the vote. But with 48% of voters siding with opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Erdoğan will have to govern a divided nation. in its centenary.

Like a professor of political scienceI have he analyzed Turkish politics for many years. The election provided a stark choice for Turkey’s voters: end or extend Erdogan for two decades towards an authoritarian-style government. The decision to opt for the latter will mark the future of the country in a key way, both internally and in terms of its relations with Western countries.

What about Turkey’s political system?

Turkey had its first democratic elections of May 1950. Since then it has had a multi-party competitive system, although it has been sporadically interrupted several military coups.

In the last 10 years, Erdogan has rejected Turkey more autocratic, one-man style of governance This has included restrictions freedom of expression, freedom of the press i free assembly.

There is little reason to believe that Erdoğan, buoyed by a new mandate, will reverse this trajectory.

Erdogan won the election without making any promises about restoring or expanding rights and freedoms. Rather, his campaign signaled an intention to continue Turkey’s path to being a conservative and religious state, far removed from the vision of a modern and secular nation of the founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

In the run-up to the elections, Erdoğan presented himself as the leader of the religious conservatives. reciting the Koran in Hagia Sophia i addressing the people of another mosque after the Friday prayer. He also presented himself as a militaristic leader, using battleships, drones and other weapons as campaign instruments and uploading a new Twitter profile picture with a air force pilot jacket. This stance was combined with his accusations of the opposition collaborated with the PKK – a Kurdish separatist organization designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey – suggests that Erdogan continues to promote Turkish nationalism and militarism.

The story continues

Erdoğan’s run-off victory comes just two weeks after his Justice and Development Party and its coalition partners obtained the parliamentary majority. It means the opposition will have no executive or legislative power to constrain Erdogan’s agenda.

Future relations with the US and the West

Another important and consistent feature of Erdogan’s presidential campaign was his criticism of the West in general and the united states in particular

Erdogan has accused the United States of a variety of perceived slights and Washington’s stance on issues affecting Turkey. Last year, the Turkish leader criticized Washington’s support from the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdish PKK and protested the deployment of American armored vehicles to two Greek islands. Meanwhile, it has clearly distanced itself from NATO allies on Russian sanctions and instead spoke of Turkey’s “special relationship”. with Russia

In mid-April, Erdogan called the election as an opportunity for voters to “send a message to the West” who, he claimed, supported the opposition candidate. “This country does not look at what the West says, neither when it comes to fighting terrorism nor when determining its economic policies.” he said.

Some of it was campaign rhetoric. And Erdoğan can make some attempts to heal the rifts with Western countries, such as approving Sweden’s candidacy for NATO – something he has so far refused to do about what Turkey considers as the host of the Nordic country of Kurdish terrorists.

But even this concession would not mean a transformation of Erdogan’s deeply critical attitude towards Western countries in general.

In fact, the only factor that can force Erdoğan return Turkey to a pro-Western position is Turkey’s ongoing economic crisis, which could require support from wealthy Western states and institutions.

What’s next for Turkey’s shaky economy?

Since 2018, the Turkish economy has done so show symptoms of a crisis. Turkey’s currency, the lira, has fallen in value precipitously. In March, this fell to a new low 19 to the dollar. Also, in 2022, the year the inflation rate exceeded 80%.

To win the election, Erdoğan pursued several policies that appealed to voters but may further stress the economy and bleed domestic reserves. They include reduction of the retirement age i give a 45% salary increase to public workers.

Meanwhile, economic crisis and authoritarian policies have resulted in a “brain drain” with many educated young people moving to Western European countries.

If the election result leads to a further exodus of skilled and educated workers, it will only weaken Turkey’s ability to deal with its economic crisis. That thinking could push Erdogan toward a rethinking of policies that alienate younger, more secular Turks.

It could also force Erdogan to reassess his foreign policy. Currently, the Turkish leader has looked Qatar, Saudi Arabia i Russia for financial support. If that proves to be insufficient, Erdoğan will be forced to seek stronger relations with the United States to facilitate financial aid from the International Monetary Fund and other international organizations.

Erdogan won the election without making any promises of change in terms of domestic or foreign policy. But if the economic crisis it faces does not abate, a change may be forced upon it.

This article is republished from the conversation, an independent, non-profit news site dedicated to sharing insights from academic experts. The Conversation is trusted news from experts, from an independent non-profit organization. Try our free newsletters.

It was written by: Ahmet T. Dry, San Diego State University.

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Ahmet T. Kuru does not work for, consult with, own stock in, or receive funding from any company or organization that benefits from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond his academic appointment.

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