Saturday, May 30, 2015Saturday, May 30, 2015

Turkey set to elect Erdogan as strongman president

Published on Aug 10, 2014 11:32 AM
Turkey's Prime Minister and presidential candidate Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters during an election rally in Ankara on Aug 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to vanquish his two rivals in elections on Sunday to become the next Turkish president, promising to expand the post with new powers as opponents worry Turkey is creeping towards autocracy.

Erdogan, a pious Muslim, has ruled Turkey as premier since 2003, a period in which he has transformed the country with modernisation projects but also faced accusations of a gradual Islamisation and an erosion of civil rights.

The polls are the first time Turkey will directly elect its president, who has previously been chosen by parliament and in recent decades has fulfilled a largely ceremonial role.

However Erdogan, who is happy to be referred to by followers as the "Sultan", has made clear he intends to be a head of state who "sweats" and exercises real power. His ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has vowed to seek to change the constitution to give the president more powers, which could give Turkey a presidential system similar to France rather than its current parliamentary democracy.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!