In a vociferously contended election Erdogan has been re-elected, armed with with sweeping new presidential powers that have tenuous implication for the region and the international community. The new authoritative powers include complete control over the cabinet, over appointment of judges and officials, along with the power to issue decrees with the force of law, ultimately vesting him with supreme executive authority against all tenets of democracy.
The formidable re-elected President has exhibited a decidedly conservative and recalcitrant agenda since assuming national office 15 years ago, characterized by personal politics, abuses of civil and human rights, mass arrests following the failed 2016 coup, clampdowns on secular democratic institutions, and censorship of independent media, a legacy that will intensify with the new role.
Erdogan’s popularity, fanned by conservative nationalists and Sunni Muslims has been further sustained by populist yet contentious policies that have aimed to revive an neo-Ottoman presence in the region with him at the helm. Under Erdogan, the rising military presence with an anti-Kurdish agenda will seek to further foment instability in the region. Already harboring a rift with the US, Europe, Greece, Egypt and a falling out with the Gulf monarchies, and with escalating Turkish military operations inside Iraq and in Syria, Erdrogan’s reign -if left uncontested- is set to become more contentious and autocratic within the global arena.
The win also signals a problematic encouragement of transnational alliances of religious political parties, fanning the ideologies and political determination of the far-right. Where his new authoritarian role undermines the checks and balances needed for a properly functioning democracy at home, his reign erroneously legitimizes the claims and platforms of global conservative elements that seek to impose their ideologies in similar undemocratic vein. It is telling that conservative elements in Pakistan hail Erdogan’s problematic victory and his empowered new role as a new era in the prowess of ‘conservative Islam’.