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Erdogan for president

Baha Güngör / jlwJuly 1, 2014

As expected, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he is running for president. Success is a given, and he will become even more unpredictable, says DW's Baha Güngör.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan tritt bei türkischer Präsidentschaftswahl an
Image: AFP/Getty Images

The question is not whether Turks will elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan as president of Turkey after 12 years of him occupying the post of prime minister and enjoying a steadily growing share of votes.

International attention is more focused on whether the religiously conservative leader will gain a majority in the first ballot round, set for August 10. If not, he will have to wait until the second vote on August 24 before he can attain the highest political post in Turkey.

Presidential candidates or newly elected heads of state often want to be the "president of the people." Erdogan's focus on Islamic rather than contemporary values has gained him overwhelming popularity. At the last election three years ago, the ruling party, Party for Justice, garnered 50 percent of the vote after their first, surprise success in 2002, where it achieved 34 percent.

Deutsche Welle Türkisch Bahaeddin Güngör
Baha Güngör heads DW's Turkish serviceImage: DW

France as an example

This huge electoral success and the lack of other powerful charismatic opposition figures have given Erdogan the feeling he is infallible. In fact, his faults, his gaffes, allegations of corruption - even from his own family as well as members of the government - have been hidden under a cloak of silence and ignorance.

One fatal mistake was the assessment of the civil war in neighboring Syria and the alarming developments in Iraq and also his associations with dissidents and journalists in his own country - all of which point to Erdogan as becoming even more unpredictable as president.

Erdogan will achieve his aim of becoming all-powerful. He is highly unlikely to agree to everything submitted to parliament and the government. He will make sure his extensive powers are fully utilized. Erdogan will try to bring about a centralized presidential system - as in France.

Faint hope of opponents

Meanwhile, the AKP will probably be left to its own devices. Even the former President, Abdullah Gül, who was supposed to take over the reigns as party leader and prime minister, will not prevent a party divide. All previous ruling parties fell into obscurity after their leader rose to the role of president. And that could trigger political chaos and undertainty, jeopardizing the fragile state of peace in Turkey.

The hope of his domestic political opponents is meanwhile solely based on ruining his chances of winning in the first round. The joint candidate of the nationalist left party and the far-right party, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, as well as Selahattin Demirtas from the pro-Kurdish HDP party are nothing more than weak alternatives, with no chance of making it.

It's all part of democracy, which Erdogan has so far managed to use to his advantage. And the EU has applauded and supported him along the way. This has certainly played a decisive role in the shambles that Turkey is today.