Today Erdogan is sworn in as Turkish President. This is the beginning of a “new era”, he announced. Because the introduction of the presidential system gives him more power than ever before.
By Oliver Mayer-Rüth, ARD Studio Istanbul
Like a bang at the end of a dark symphony full of discord: Thus, perhaps Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s final decree before his re-introduction to the office of Turkish President and before the expected end of almost two years of continuing state of emergency.
More than 18,500 civil servants and civil servants were fired under the decree. Most of them are police and army personnel, but also teachers and university lecturers. Many of them had been suspended for months but still received their salary. The dismissal by decree means the existential emergency for thousands of families. The reason is once again connection to a terrorist organization.
Since the coup attempt in July 2016, for which the Turkish government has blamed exiled Islamic preacher Fetullah Gülen and his movement, 110,000 state employees have been released and 3,000 redundancies have been withdrawn. The dismissals by the recent decree are not included. Turkish human rights activists speak of more than 200,000 people temporarily detained during the same period. Of these, about 40,000 are still in custody or convicted in custody.
“Enthronement of a sovereign ruler”
Today, 2000 to 3000 invited guests can admire Erdogan’s introduction to the office of President. The Turkish people narrowly voted in favor of a presidential system in the referendum held in April last year, which will bring Erdogan far-reaching gains in power with the inauguration.
For example, critics speak of the enthronement of a sultan of equal rank who has the command of the Turkish army, is the sole head of government, and can appoint the majority of constitutional judges in parliament with the majority of his AKP alliance and the ultranationalist MHP.
Before the Turks’ election on 24 June, it was sometimes said by AKP circles that after his re-election Erdogan would pursue a more conciliatory, less polarizing policy. The decree of July 8th however, speaks a different language. On the contrary, it gives reason to fear that the Turkish President, after his inauguration, will continue his sharp course against dissidents.
Tension in Turkish society
The same AKP circles disagree and declare that there is tension in Turkish society, which now needs to be overcome. The AKP was once set up to reconcile the three largest ethnic-religious groups in the country, Turks, Kurds and Alevis. Now, however, the Turks felt even more so than Turks, who strengthened Alevis as Alevis, and the Kurds also felt more Kurdish than ever. This should not go on, and Erdogan recognized that.
Behind this is the desire to get foreign investors interested in Turkey again, as the decades-long conflict with many dead civilians and the harsh repression of the past two years put them off. And investors or foreign exchange urgently needs the country. The Turkish currency Lira has fallen significantly in recent months. Inflation is more than 15%. The prime rate at more than 17.75%. In order to prevent a further fall of the lira, the central bank would have to raise the key rate again.
Big companies are putting pressure on the government to stop the lira from decaying because its dollar debt is exploding. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Turkey are worried about high interest rates because their debt is on the rise. Layoffs threaten.
Economically troubled times
Erdogan has apparently recognized the economic storm that could hit Turkey in the fall. One of the reasons for the early elections held at the end of June was probably the concern that voters disappointed in economic policy might lose their love for the president who was often scolded for his authoritarian style of politics in a later poll. On Saturday Erdogan told the delegates of his AKP the high interest rates on the fight. “With the power given us by the new presidential system, we will achieve faster and stronger results,” he said.
Whether the old and new state president can actually use his considerably greater powers for a policy of reconciliation may also depend on Devlet Bahceli, head of the ultranationalist MHP. His party has always stood for a hard hand against independence efforts of the Kurds. The MHP is a junior partner of the Erdogan party AKP in parliament. Without the ultranationalist MHP supporters Erdogan would not have been re-elected immediately in the first round of the election.
There are legitimate doubts in the country as to whether Erdogan can push the right-wing MHP spirit back into the bottle. Erdogan gets on Monday significantly more power than before. In doing so, he assumes full responsibility for the success or failure of his government.
The Tagesschau reported on this subject at 06:30 on 09 July 2018.