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MEHMET ALİ BİRAND > What kind of a president will Erdoğan be?

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Recently, we started looking at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speeches, body language and general attitude from a different viewpoint. Obviously, the reason is the presidential election in 2014.

It is now a commonly accepted fact that the prime minister will be a candidate for the presidency. He doesn’t deny it, either. But it is not clear whether the next president will be a member of a political party with current powers, or a president whose powers are expanded. These ambiguities will be resolved in the discussions over constitutional reforms. But whatever the result will be, Erdoğan’s personality will make the operating of that position rather different, as Erdoğan makes his own rules by himself.

And such a figure will probably rule Turkey between 2014 and 2024.

This time, his ruling will be rather different, since his powers will increase when he takes office in Çankaya Presidential Palace.

So, what kind of a president will he be?

Let’s keep in mind that every politician changes, especially the ones who take on a position of leadership for a long time.

Thus, all eyes have turned to Erdoğan with wonder. And they are trying to predict the future by looking at today.

The harsh mastery period
We can basically categorize the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into two halves: between the years of 2001 and 2011, and the process after the 2011 general election.

The first period passed with a struggle of existence in the face of secular and military powers.

During the first period, Erdoğan behaved quite cautiously, paid attention to those around and abstained from arguing with the conventional powers of the country. Even in the presidential competition, he behaved quite moderately and showed concern about not ruining the balance in his appointments. This continued until the legal case opened for the closing of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), with the charge of religious fundamentalism. This case had a great influence on Erdoğan. The attempt to close the ruling party, which came to power with a great proportion of votes, made Erdoğan say, “They ravenously aim at cutting off our heads,” in his private talks.

At last, the party narrowly escaped from being closed. However, after the AKP broke another record with 52 percent of votes in 2011 elections, we came across a rather different Erdoğan profile.

He turned into a sharpened and keen leader.

He got very stern in his relations with the opposition. He behaved very angrily in his relations with media. He turned into a peremptory leader who gradually raised his voice at every incident and rules his party with an iron fist. Maybe he wouldn’t accept it, but most people started to regard him as “the only man.”

And now, we are about to adopt the new presidential system with such a leader.

So, what will happen next?

Will Erdoğan get harsher or turn to his old days after settling in the presidential palace?

Now all of us are asking the same question: “What kind of an Erdoğan profile will we see in Çankaya?”

No matter what will change in the new presidential system, Erdoğan’s personality will completely take over that position and he will use his powers to the full extent. He is a political leader who never lets his leadership be open to for discussion. Consequently, one cannot expect him to remain silent after assuming the presidency.

Keep in mind that Erdoğan’s powers will increase in the new presidential system.

So the fundamental questions are: “Will Erdoğan search for ways of consensus in Çankaya? Will he give up his harsh tone in the last period of his prime ministry?” “Will his relations with the media; and his view of the opposition become more flexible?”

It is very hard to say yes to these questions.

He will be elected with the votes of public and remain the leader of his party. That means the fate of the AKP members in Parliament will completely depend on the leader’s words. He will gather the cabinet and give instructions whenever he wants.

In such an atmosphere, no one expects Erdoğan to remain in the background, as he has ruled the country by himself for years. And it seems very hard to change his general attitude.

All in all, we will probably come across a more authoritative and influential Erdoğan profile compared to his current state.

January/03/2013

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