Erdogan assumes new presidential powers, tightening control over Turkey

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 11, 2018

The event at parliament in the capital, Ankara, concludes the country's transition from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency, in line with the constitutional changes approved in a referendum past year.

He referred to the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic and vowed to "remain loyal to the rule of law, to the democratic and secular republic, and to Ataturk's principles and reforms".

"Turkey is entering a new era with the presidential oath ceremony on Monday", Erdogan told his ruling AK Party at the weekend.

In his message, the King said that "this re-election is a testament to the renewed confidence of the Turkish people" in the president's efforts "to advance, develop and strengthen Turkey's position" internationally.

Abolishing the post of prime minister, the president will now form the government, appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and has the power to impose a state of emergency.

Erdogan is scheduled to take the oath of office at the Grand National Assembly in Ankara at 4:30 pm (1330 GMT), as Turkey completes its transition from a parliamentary model to an all-powerful presidency.

Hours after he was sworn in with sweeping new powers at a ceremony in the capital of Ankara late on Monday, Erdogan named Berat Albayrak as treasury and finance minister. Erdogan's supporters see the changes as a just reward for a leader who has put Islamic values at the core of public life, championed the pious working classes and overseen years of strong economic growth.

Current Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu could, in theory, continue in his job but reports have said Erdogan may choose his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, or even spy chief Hakan Fidan to succeed him.

The lira has been battered by concern about Erdogan's drive for lower interest rates and by comments in May that he planned to take greater control of the economy after the election, which he won on June 24.

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 leaving behind the system that has in the past cost our country a heavy price in political and economic chaos. In other words, Turkey will be an institutionalized autocracy", former EU Ambassador to Turkey Marc Pierini said.

Erdogan said he would publicize his cabinet picks later on Monday.

In the aftermath of the 2016 coup, Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance and still nominally a candidate to join the European Union, has detained some 160,000 people, jailed journalists and shut down dozens of media outlets.

Likewise, the departure of market-friendly ministers such as Mehmet Simsek, the well regarded former deputy prime minister, and Naci Agbal, previously the finance minister, has also undermined confidence.

Inflation surged last month above 15 percent, its highest level in more than a decade, despite interest rate hikes of 500 basis points by the central bank since April.

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