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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid