Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan sworn in with new presidential powers

Irving Hamilton
July 10, 2018

Erdogan, who first came to power as premier in 2003, won an outright victory in June 24 polls, defeating his closest rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) which is now locked in internal battles over its future direction.

Erdogan, who has transformed Turkey by allowing Islam to play a greater role in public life and boosting the country's global stature, will take his oath nearly two years after defeating a bloody attempted coup.

Under the new system, Erdogan leads the state's executive branch and has the right to appoint and dismiss vice-presidents, a newly introduced position, as well as ministers, high-level officials and senior judges - without parliamentary approval.

Assuming the new executive presidency he has long fought to establish, Erdogan earlier took the oath of office in parliament before addressing global leaders gathered at the presidential palace in Ankara.

"There is no stopping for us until we bring Turkey - which we saved from plotters, coupists and political and economic hitmen, street gangs and terrorist organisations - to among the top 10 economies in the world", he said.

On the eve of Monday's inauguration authorities dismissed more than 18,000 state employees - a lot of them from the police and army - in what the government said would be the final decree under emergency rule imposed following a failed 2016 coup.

"We are now adopting a model that is way beyond our 150-year-old pursuit of democracy and our 95-year-long experience of a republic", Erdogan said.

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Erdogan will face immediate and major challenges in his second term, posed by an imbalanced fast-growing economy and foreign policy tensions between the West and Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member.

Erdogan's restructuring is the most significant adjustment of the country's political system since the formal establishment of modern Turkey, which supplanted the shattered remains of the Ottoman Empire. To his opponents, it is one-man rule and the death of Turkish democracy.

But President Erdogan has put religion at the heart of the country and has distanced it from the West. Few European leaders attended his inauguration - only those from Hungary and Bulgaria - with most from Africa and the Middle East: a sign of his geopolitical realignment.

Mr Erdogan is the arch polariser and views today are again divided. For some, it is the coronation of a new Turkey. For others, it's the dismantlement of Ataturk's republic.

Army chief of staff General Hulusi Akar joined the government as defence minister but Mevlut Cavusoglu kept the post of foreign minister.

There are 16 ministers in Erdogan's streamlined new cabinet, which Erdogan has said will be more efficient and act faster.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will on Monday go down in history as the 27th and final holder of a post that has existed since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey, and whose origins date back to the Ottoman Empire. Inflation surged last month above 15 percent, its highest level in more than a decade, even though the central bank has raised interest rates by 5 percentage points since April.

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