News / Middle East

Analyst: Erdogan Presidential Bid Exploiting Privileges of Office

Turkey's Prime Minister and presidential candidate Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during an election rally in Istanbul, Aug. 3, 2014.
Turkey's Prime Minister and presidential candidate Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during an election rally in Istanbul, Aug. 3, 2014.
Dorian Jones

Hundreds of thousands of ruling AK party faithful attended Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's largest-yet presidential rally in Istanbul Sunday, a lavish event that, according to local media reports, saw nearly 5,000 buses — many of them belonging to state ministries and local party authorities — funnel supporters into a large outdoor sports complex.

Erdogan, the candidate that early polls favor to become the 12th president of modern Turkey in upcoming elections, has unleashed an energetic nationwide campaign with TV advertisements and billboards akin to a U.S.-style campaign.

Analyst Sinan Ulgen of the Carnegie Institute in Brussels says the prime minister’s campaign differs greatly from those of rival candidates Selahattin Demirtas and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who have financed their rallies primarily with donations.

"When you look at the campaign of the prime minister, it is a well-orchestrated campaign that relies on both the machinery of the ruling party and on substantial resources that are at the command of the prime minister," he said.

According to Ulgen, Erdogan has not only turned public appearances as sitting prime minister into campaign stops — some of them state-financed — but crisscrossed the country in the prime ministerial jet to address supporters, even beginning his campaign before the July 31 start date set by Turkey's election board.

While Erdogan's political rivals and officials with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe have accused the prime minister of illegal and unfair campaign practices, his office has denied that any of his campaign activities violate country's election laws.

Observers also say Erdogan's campaign tactics contrast from his opponents by making foreign policy a strong theme. At his Istanbul rally, Erdogan again condemned Israel's offensive against Gaza, saying that Palestinians are right to resist Israel, which "will drown in the blood" it sheds.

“Just like Hitler, who sought to establish a race free of all faults, Israel is chasing after the same target,” Erdogan told the stadium packed with supporters. “They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won’t grow up; they kill men so they can’t defend their country ... They will drown in the blood they shed.”

Despite strong condemnation from Turkey's western allies for comparing current Israeli policies with those of the Nazi's, observers say Erdogan is well aware that such rhetoric plays well to his conservative Sunni Muslim voting base. He also denied charges of anti-Semitism.

Erdogan has also been increasingly playing the nationalist card, a campaign tactic that, opinion polls indicate, could be putting him well ahead of his rivals — and well above the 50 percent needed to win outright in the first round of voting on August 10, which would obviate the need for a runoff contest.

The prime minister is also setting himself apart from his opponents by declaring that if he wins he will be a far more assertive president. Until now the presidency has been strictly non-partisan and largely a figurative position with most power lying in parliament.

Analyst Ulgen says as this is the first time the president will be directly elected by the people, which would allow Erdogan to claim a mandate for a strong presidency.

"He may view the presidency as the extension of the executive post that he used to occupy as the prime minister, and basically operate as the de-facto prime minister and therefore continue with his polarizing tactics," Ulgen said.

Erdogan has already warned in several interviews and speeches that if elected he will be a partisan president, claiming it's impossible to be impartial. Analysts warn that could mean more political and social polarization and division that has characterized much of his decade-long rule as prime minister.

But during that same decade, Turkey has experienced unprecedented growth and prosperity, transforming into a regional power with a vibrant emerging economy.

It is a legacy that, analysts say, Erdogan is banking on to make him president.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs