Javier Fernández Arribas
Director of Atalayar
n the 20 years that the moderate Islamist leader of the Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayip Erdogan, has been in power in Turkey, the evolution of presidentialism is a fact that citizens have the option of evaluating in the elections.
Turkey is not just any country, given its status as a hinge between East and West, its past as the Ottoman Empire and its political, economic, commercial, energy and social weight in one of the world’s most complicated and delicate regions, and its influence in the international arena due to its membership of NATO.
But beyond Turkey’s position as a rising regional power due to the aggressive policy that President Erdogan has pursued over the years, where he has even come to deal with Vladimir Putin’s Russia with surprising closeness, a key element of the Turkish presidential elections is the precarious economic situation of its citizens.
Inflation averages 50.5% but reaches 100% in big cities such as Istanbul, the lira is steadily depreciating, education, health and shopping basket prices have risen steadily by more than 12% and the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world at 10.1%.
The polls predicted a change in the country’s government due to the opposition coalition’s promises to recover the democratic practices lost after the current president monopolised a large part of the power and introduced constitutional reforms to achieve this. Concentration of power in the hands of the leader and a process of Islamisation of society that has sought to do away with the secular principles of Attaturk’s modern Turkey. However, now in the second round, the forecast is for a renewed triumph of the current president.
Erdogan’s relations with Putin are assessed in the light of events. The purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles provoked a major crisis within NATO and the US left Turkey out of the F-35 fighter programme. Gone were years of Turkey’s valuable contribution, with one of the best militaries in the world, to the goals of the Atlantic Alliance and the United States in the Middle East.
Its expansionist policies in North Africa, Somalia, Qatar and other regions raised serious alarms in countries such as France and Greece. In recent months, his mediation work with Putin has allowed him to maintain his economic interests related to the transit of Russian oil and gas, tourists, arms sales and to play a key role in agreements to achieve the export of thousands of tonnes of Ukrainian grain and avoid a global food crisis that has a devastating effect on drought. Migration control is key to European stability.
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