The new Turkey: Good and bad scenarios
There are a number of criteria that political and economic observers will be watching as they try to understand the “new Turkey,” as re-elected President Tayyip Erdoğan likes to call it.
1) The government: With the June 24 election, the executive presidential model approved in the April 2017 referendum will start to be implemented for the first time. There is no prime minister in this system. The cabinet will be handpicked by the president, who will also chair it. There will also be no members of parliament in the cabinet, as they will have to resign as MPs if they are to become ministers. Erdoğan said during the campaign that the number of ministers will be reduced from 25 to 16 or 17. According to reports leaked from presidential sources in Ankara, there could be a board of advisers to assist the president in taking decisions and ministers’ job will only be to implement these decisions. Foreign observers are therefore curious about whether the system will reduce the role of ministers to a kind of “supervisor level,” or else what the governance model in the new system will be.
2) The names in the government: There are a number of points in this parenthesis. First, there are the names in the offices of advisors, and whether some of the contentious names currently advising the president continue to serve him. Second, there are the names of the ministers. One of the areas of interest is the economy, and here the name of Erdoğan’s former Economy Minister Ali Babacan is particularly wondered about. The fate of Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek, currently responsible for the economy, is also being speculated about. The new foreign minister’s name is also a matter of curiosity, and Erdoğan is expected to abolish the European Union Affairs Ministry in order to bring it under the wing of the Foreign Ministry, as was the case in previous years. There are reports that Erdoğan may want to see one or two internationally renowned businesspeople in the cabinet.
3) The economic policy: Will Erdoğan’s new government continue the policy of high growth at the expense of the budget deficit, high inflation, and high interest rates, or will he prefer a cooling down of economic policies? Will the local elections in March 2019 bring another wave of election economy to risk the promised structural reforms? Will the state of emergency continue, since it has an effect on the investment environment? Those are among the most frequent questions asked by economic observers who have the potential to influence foreign investors.
4) The foreign policy: Will Turkey’s antagonism with its western allies continue, especially within NATO and with the EU? Will Turkey resume taking steps to enhance the quality of democracy, suffering regression due to the state of emergency following the defeated coup attempt of 2016? Will the purchase of the Russian S-400 missiles lead to more serious problems in relations between Turkey and the United States? Those are among the most asked foreign policy questions, which are likely to be on Erdoğan’s agenda in this new era.
5) The worst and the best cases: Under a number of uncertainties due to the shift to a brand new system, foreign observers try to work on what will be the best case and worst case scenarios under the new Erdoğan administration.
It is not very difficult to talk about the good and bad scenarios. If Erdoğan decides to leave the rifts behind and be in search of more inclusive policies in all fields, from economy to foreign policy, from the parliament to the street, those steps will help for a best case scenario. That could mean better relations with the EU and the western allies, while trying to protect the national interests, structural reforms in economy, a judicial reform for more court independence, changes in the anti-terror law with its links with the state of emergency while taking smart measures against terrorism, and more freedom of expression and media.
The opposite of those would be the worst case scenario.
And the reality probably lies somewhere in the middle, but hopefully it will lean towards the better side.