Erdogan promises ‘Democracy, Prosperity &  Esteem on the road to New Turkey’.

Turkey is electing its President for the first time in the history of the Republic in August 2014. Three candidates Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Selahattin Demirtas are running for presidency. Although much has been spoken about the candidates, CEFTUS Insights editors are looking what the candidates say about and promise for 10 of many issues that concern Turkey.

System of Governance

Incumbent Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate. It has been the AKP’s, and particularly Erdogan’s ambition to move onto a new way of appointing the President of Turkey. They have proposed to elect the President directly by the public instead of an internal appointment by the Turkish parliament.

Allegations suggest that AKP’s this move will initiate further changes to the system of governance Turkey. A presidential system of government with a Prime Minister with much less authority might be installed if and when the Turkish Constitution, which is a production of 1980 military coup, is amended in the next years. PM Erdogan in his ‘Presidential Vision Statement’ (PVS) states that changing the Constitution is his priority if he is elected, however, there is no direct and open reference or promise to implement a new presidential system as opposed to the current title ‘Cumhurbaskanligi’ (the Presidency of the Republic) in his PVS.Nevertheless, PM Erdogan who claims to have destroyed ‘all sorts of tutelages’, promises an active and strong President who will interfere in cabinet’s work and deliver his judgement on every issue that matters to the ‘nation.

The Peace Process

The Middle East and the region

Erdogan states that his government’s ambition to bring peace, democracy and prosperity to neighbours of Turkey and the region has been a state of instability due to several crises in recent years.

He argues that Egypt suffers from military tutelage which undermines state authority and that his presidency will support the people of Egypt and the toppled Morsi government. Referring to Syria and Iraq, Erdogan blames false politics and discriminatory governance for eruption of extremist groups in these countries.

Erdogan, referencing to Turkey’s support for Annan’s Plan for referendum in Cyprus in 2004 for a solution of the Cyprus issue and Turkey-Armenia reconciliation protocols in 2009, offers further diplomacy to implement peace, democracy and pluralism.

PM Erdogan has taken an ‘anti-Bashar al-Assad’ attitude since the Syrian unrest began in 2011.Erdogan commenting on the recent Israeli attack on Gaza causing over 600 deaths of mostly civilians stated that Turkey will not seek reconciliation with Israel until a ceasefire is achieved between sides and the Israeli embargo on Gaza is removed. The Turkish government also declared three days mourning for Palestinians killed in this conflict.

Erdogan has not separately commented on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) as ISIS still holds Turkish diplomats of Turkey’s Mosul Consulate General hostage since early June 2014. Turkey’s Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) implemented a court’s decision that reporting on the situation in Mosul is banned on media. The call for a ban had been initially advocated by Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Erdogan having taking religious stance has called ISIS to release the hostages if they are ‘true Muslims’.