Having served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 and President since 2014, Turkish politician Recep Tayyip Erdogan has now once again won the presidency by a 53% vote.
There was considerable opposition from one of the three other presidential candidates; Muharrem Ince from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who claimed an agenda of wanting to restore the strength of parliamentary democracy in Turkey.
He garnered support through fierce campaigning throughout the country, appealing to the people through policy objectives such as increased personal freedoms and judicial independence, as well as pledging the removal of the state of emergency the country had been operating under as dictated by President Erdogan. This had been imposed after an attempted coup by some members of the military in July of 2016.
Erdogan, especially after the coup, has tightened his powers over the workings of the country, almost to the point of turning the system into a one-man dictatorship. There was a widespread disappointment after the announcement of his win; Erdogan’s outright rejection of democracy has been a source of alarm for many people who had been hoping for a change.
He is notorious for ruthless suppression of opposition; thousands of potential dissenters and rebels have been imprisoned since the coup, and press freedom has been at an all-time low.
Erdogan’s extreme authoritarian attitude was the reason why so many were glad to see strong opposition during the presidential election campaigns. Muharrem Ince’s position was strengthened by the support of conservative nationalist Meral Aksener who promised to stand by Ince in preventing Turkey from solidifying into a supreme presidential power.
The elections, however, revealed unerring support from the conservatives of the country who continue to root for Erdogan. But according to Ince, there had been tampering during the counting of the ballot boxes. He claimed that, although the country’s international news agency (run by the state), Anadolu Agency, had reported the counting of 90% of the boxes, in reality only 37% had been counted.
Considering the upcoming five years of an authoritarian regime under Erdogan, the situation of the opposition looks bleak as of now. If the opposition and its supporters remain united and continue their work, however, there could still be hope for a return to democracy as desired by the people.