Turkey's election will be plebiscite on Erdogan

Monday, March 16, 2015

Subject

Early campaigning for the June 7 general election.

Significance

The election is turning into a plebiscite on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's highly personal style of government. At particular issue is whether he should be enabled to set up an executive presidency by winning the two-thirds majority in the next National Assembly that would allow constitutional changes. With no serious rivals inside or outside the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan's attempts to impose his political will regardless of consequences have triggered a slide in the value of the lira and a confrontation with the head of the country's intelligence service.

Impacts

  • Relations between Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are uneasy, but Davutoglu is unlikely to be changed before the elections.
  • Erdogan seems to have called a truce with the Central Bank, but this appears not to extend to allowing it to raise interest rates.
  • This reflects a certain underlying pragmatism to the president's outlook, provided he has advisers around him who dare warn him of dangers.
  • Ocalan is now a pivotal political figure in Turkey as the government has made some sort of settlement with the Kurds a key goal.
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