News / Middle East

Turkey Poised for First Direct Presidential Poll

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan wave to supporters after a rally in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan wave to supporters after a rally in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.
Dorian Jones

Millions of people in Turkey head to the polls Sunday for the country's first direct presidential election.

Turnout is expected to be high as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, former chief of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party.

Erdogan is the front-runner. If elected, he says he intends to change the constitution and establish an executive presidency. In the past, Turkey's presidents have been ceremonial figureheads.

Erdogan’s campaign, backed by his ruling AK Party, has massively outspent his two rivals, and the prime minister's supporters are widely seen as well organized and well financed across the country.

Erdogan promises he will represent Turkey's "national will” when he becomes president. Political analyst Atilla Yesilada, of Global Source Partners, says an Erdogan administration is likely to be very different than the presidential role that Turks are accustomed to.
 
"It appears to me a new blueprint is being crafted, [with] almost all the major policy decisions of Turkey being taken in the presidential palace by Erdogan," said Yesilada.

The prime minister has said he would exercise the full powers of the presidency under Turkey's existing laws, including the authority to call parliament, summon cabinet meetings and appoint prime ministers, the council of ministers and some high court judges.

Religious conservatives, who are Erdogan's core supporters, see his likely rise to the presidency as the crowning achievement of his drive to reshape Turkey. In his decade as prime minister, he has broken the hold of the secular elite that dominated government since the founding of the modern Turkish republic in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The prime minister's critics are disturbed by his Islamist political roots and his increasingly authoritarian bent. In the past year, Erdogan has purged thousands of police and prosecutors, increased the powers of the intelligence agency and banned access to YouTube and Twitter as he fought off corruption probes that implicated the government and family members.

Erdogan's campaign slogan is "national will, national power." He says whatever the outcome of Sunday's election, Turkey will not be the same.

Rivals campaign against 'authoritarianism'

In contrast to Erdogan, his rivals, Selahattin Demirtas and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, are campaigning against "authoritarianism," promising they will not make significant changes in the country's balance of power.

But the prime minister's fortunes have been boosted by difficulties facing by his chief rival, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. The center-left Republican People's Party selected the former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as its candidate in the hopes that his religious background would win over some traditional supporters of the prime minister.

Analyst Sinan Ulgen of the Carnegie Institute in Brussels says that move may have backfired.

"It really hinges on whether [Ihsanoglu] gets full support from the CHP [Republican People's Party] constituency," said Ulgen. "And, looking at the reaction from within the CHP, that is not very likely to happen. We may see a split within the party because of the conservative background of the candidate."

Experts say many CHP supporters could boycott the vote. However, Ihsanoglu also is backed by the right-wing National Action Party.

Regardless of who wins, political analysts and observers expect that Turkey's deep political polarization will only intensify.

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Philip Smeeton from: Oslo
August 10, 2014 6:52 AM
The majority of Turks are Muslims, given a free and fair democratic election they will vote for islamists. Then the islamists abolish democracy and establish an islamic state.

by: Philip Smeeton from: Oslo
August 10, 2014 6:48 AM
The majority of Turks are Muslims, given a free and fair democratic election they will vote for islamists. Then the islamists abolish democracy and establish an islamic state.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs