Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Turkey's Erdogan Claims Presidential Victory (via CFR)

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the country's first direct election for president on Sunday, with tallies showing him claiming just under fifty-two percent of the vote (Hurriyet). Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, his main challenger, followed up with 38.3 percent of the vote, while Selahattin Demirtas, a young Kurdish politician running on a left-wing platform, came in third with 9.7 percent. In his campaign, Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, vowed to transform the presidency(FT) from a largely ceremonial post to one of influence and power. On Monday the country's ruling AK Party, which Erdogan founded, will begin deliberations on the shape of the next government (Reuters), including the selection of a new party leader—likely to be a staunch loyalist.

Analysis

"A year ago, it looked as though protests could bring down the administration, but the political fallout has proved to be relatively modest. Erdogan has a knack for portraying himself as a political victim forced to crack down harshly on those who use lies and conspiracies to undermine his government," writes Soner Cagaptay for The Los Angeles Times.
"The dividing lines in the presidential race have nothing to do with religion, but rather revolve around the role of the state, Turkey's place in the West, its treatment of minorities, and economic inequalities. Those looking for staunch defenders and guardians of a secular tradition that never really existed to begin with are fated to be eternally disappointed," write Michael Koplow and Steven Cook for CFR.
"The challenge for Washington is how to navigate the choppy Turkish domestic waters as Erdogan tries to consolidate power; he will not hesitate one bit to blame outsiders, including the Americans and the Europeans in the event he finds the headwinds too strong," says Henri J. Barkey in a CFR interview.