Elections in Turkey How Erdogan transformed Turkey over decades.jpgw1440

Elections in Turkey: How Erdogan transformed Turkey over decades – The Washington Post

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Sunday’s election in Turkey could decide the political future of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a leader whose decades of power transformed Turkey’s politics and role in global affairs.

First as prime minister and then as president, Erdogan faced moments of uncertainty (he survived an attempted coup in 2016). However, over time he has moved towards one-man rule, consolidating power and harnessing Turkey’s international might.

He is a polarizing figure and faces perhaps the toughest choice of his career on Sunday. He fueled rapid inflation, and in recent months his government has come under heavy criticism for its response to the earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey earlier this year.

During his tenure, he has tightened restrictions on speech and expression, and under his administration the judiciary has jailed or charged opponents. Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, his most prominent challenger, has promised an alternative: “Nothing will ever happen to you because you criticize me.”

Here are some of them Key points in Erdogan’s career as an official and actor on the world stage, tracing his journey from Istanbul’s popular mayor to established one-man rule.

1994: Erdogan, who is already involved in local politics, is running for mayor of Istanbul and, as a member of the Welfare Party, wins with around 25 percent of the vote. As mayor, Erdogan focuses on modernizing public goods and services – including through privatization. Its constituents include rural-urban migrants seeking an alternative to the entrenched secular establishment.

1997: Erdogan has been accused of inciting religious hatred after he recited a passage from a poem – containing militant religious imagery: “The minarets are our bayonets” – that contradicts Turkey’s laws enforcing secularism. As a social conservative from an Islamist political tradition, he is striving for stronger political representation of religious Muslims.

1998: Erdogan is forced to resign as mayor and is serving a four-month prison sentence in early 1999 for the recitation. His imprisonment only raises his profile.

2001: Erdogan founds the Justice and Development Party (AKP). He and his allies assume that a straight-line Islamist party would not come to power in Turkey in the early 2000s. The AKP positions itself as conservative and respectful of Islamic tradition. “I am a Muslim,” Erdogan told TIME Magazine in 2002. “But I believe in a secularist state.”

Will Turkey’s elections be free and fair? Here’s what you should know.

2003: Erdogan will become prime minister after his party gains power in parliament and there are some legislative changes allowing him to remain in office despite his imprisonment. In this role, and in the context of Turkey’s bid for EU membership, Erdogan’s government is pursuing reforms, including sweeping changes to the penal code, more money for education spending, and laws expanding freedom of expression and religion. With that comes a more conservative agenda, which includes attempts to limit alcohol sales, which Erdogan also pursued as mayor of Istanbul.

2009: President Barack Obama chooses Turkey as the destination for his first bilateral diplomatic trip abroad. His visit confirms Turkey’s vision of paving the way for a form of Islamism that is acceptable in the West and seemingly geared towards EU membership. “I came here out of respect for Turkey’s democracy and culture, and a belief that Turkey has a vital role to play in the region and in the world,” Obama said in a speech to a student roundtable during that visit, during which he mentioned that “ productive” talks with Erdogan.

200s: EU accession negotiations, which begin in 2005, stalled by the end of the night and several world leaders have expressed frustration at the pace of negotiations.

2010s: According to the 2011 Brookings Institution Arab Public Opinion Poll, Erdogan is regionally praised for his leadership of Turkey during the Arab Spring, when uprisings shook the Arab world. Among the 3,000 poll respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, “Turkey appears to have played the most ‘constructive’ role in Arab events,” according to a Brookings report on the poll’s findings. Among those polled, the article said: “Those who envision a new president for Egypt want the new president to look most like Erdogan.”

Around the same time, in late 2010, Erdogan and the AKP win a constitutional referendum that limits military power and turns the presidential election into a national rather than a parliamentary vote.

2013: Massive anti-government protests triggered by public opposition to a construction project in Istanbul supported by Erdogan Gezi Park mark a turning point in Erdogan’s political direction. Activists stage a sit-in, and the subsequent police response leads to a larger movement and a wider crackdown.

In the same year, a widespread corruption scandal embroiled members of the AKP in cases of bribery, money laundering and fraud, leading to the resignation of numerous politicians, including members of Erdogan’s cabinet. Audio footage leaked via social media also appears to show Erdogan discussing bribes with his son. Erdogan dismisses the footage as fake and part of an international conspiracy to oust him from power.

2014: Erdogan gains the presidency and wins the first presidential election in Turkey based on a nationwide vote.

2016: In March, amid a regional migration crisis, Erdogan comes to an agreement with the EU that will allow people fleeing west to be repatriated to Turkey. The deal “makes Turkey the region’s refugee camp, leaving untold thousands behind in a country with a deteriorating human rights record,” the Washington Post reported at the time.

After a failed military coup attempt on July 15 that plunged the country into brief but violent chaos, Erdogan is consolidating power. He oversees a strict crackdown on independent and critical press. (The New York-based Committee to Project Journalists has named Turkey one of the top jailers of journalists.) Erdogan begins a series of purges that will involve thousands, including former allies, from politics, academia, the judiciary and being ousted by the military Expulsion of foreign NGOs from the country. The purges target many supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former Erdogan ally.

2017: Voters approve constitutional reforms proposed by Erdogan that will change Turkey’s form of government, abolish the post of prime minister and give power to an executive president. The following year, Erdogan is re-elected president, with the role offering significantly more power than in 2014.

Following his election as president, Erdogan imposes restrictions on social media platforms and websites such as Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia, severely restricting independent media through arrests and purges, while supporting tightly controlled pro-government media. Referring to Turkey’s steps towards EU membership, EU Council President Charles Michel said the country’s government often takes “one step in the right direction and then two in the wrong direction”.

2018: Following the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, audio recordings of which Turkish officials received, Erdogan seems to be pushing for closer cooperation between Riyadh and Washington. “Where’s Khashoggi’s body? … Who gave the order to kill this kind soul? Unfortunately, the Saudi authorities have refused to answer these questions,” Erdogan writes in an editorial for the Washington Post.

2019: For the first time since the party was founded, the AKP candidate lost the mayoral election in Istanbul. The post will be taken over by Ekrem Imamoglu, a member of the opposition Republican People’s Party. Imamoglu, a popular mayor with presidential prospects, will be jailed in 2022 for “insulting public figures,” hurting his chances of running against Erdogan in the 2023 presidential election and casting doubt on Erdogan’s willingness to facilitate a fair election .

In October, Turkey launched an offensive against US-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The move brings the NATO powers into a dispute over the fight against the Islamic State.

2021-2022: Amid the Russian war in Ukraine, Erdogan is using Turkey’s status as a NATO member with ties to Russia to position himself as a mediator. In 2022, Turkey and the United Nations are facilitating a deal between Russia and Ukraine to restore Russian-blocked commercial grain shipments in the Black Sea in exchange for relaxed restrictions on certain Russian exports. He supports Sweden’s bid for NATO membership and says the country harbors “terrorists” who are hostile to Turkey’s national security.