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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs