Turkish leader Erdogan declared himself a triumphant of the presidential election even before their official results were summed up. Now his power is unlimited – the victory in the parliamentary race is in parallel celebrated by Erdogan’s party, and all hopes of the opposition went to rub. This can be called a good news for Russia, but it should prepare for unpleasant surprises.
According to preliminary data, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is gaining in the presidential election 53.6% of the vote with a turnout of 88%. The Justice and Development Party, headed by him, is somewhat smaller – 42.5%, but considering its location in one “People’s Alliance” with the Party of the Nationalist Majority (11.1% of votes), the current government will control 343 seats out of 600 – an absolute majority. In such conditions, the alliance of the opposition with the Kurdish parties, which the opponents of the Turkish leader hoped, absolutely will not yield anything.
It is worthwhile to clarify that Erdogan had all the administrative levers in his hands and that he actively used them in the pre-election race, as well as the state of emergency established in the country after the failed military coup of 2016. The government censors online content and controls almost 90% of the media, and many key opposition figures are in prison.
At the referendum in 2017 it was decided that Turkey would go over to the presidential form of government, which would deprive the parliament of the opportunity to participate in the government’s policy. This made the last elections the last chance for the opposition to influence the situation in the country. She could not use it – Erdogan emerged victorious both from the presidential and parliamentary campaigns. Defeat in the latter would not suit him anyway. In an interview with Bloomberg, the Turkish leader said that the logic of the presidential system is to have a strong parliamentary majority that supports the head of state – the only source of power.
Now Erdogan is headed by both the state and the ruling party. He will fully control the activities of the Cabinet and strengthen his authority over the military and police.
In other words, he will become the most powerful leader of Turkey since Atatürk who founded modern country in 1923. At the same time, Turkey itself is expected to weaken the remnants of the system of checks and balances, which in the long run will lead to an increase in authoritarianism within the country and further erosion of its democratic structure.
The foreign policy line of Ankara will also become tougher. Erdogan is aiming at further strengthening the role of his country in the world and clearly is not going to listen to Western reproaches, sharply intensified after “mopping up” the political space of Turkey.
Ankara’s relations with the EU are stagnating, even in spite of the Turks’ interest in liberalizing the visa regime and deepening economic ties with the European Union amid the rather difficult economic situation in the country. At the EU-Turkey summit held in March, only the parties exchanged mutual reproaches. Ankara accused Brussels of failing to fulfill its obligations to control the flow of refugees and the failure to pay the promised 3 billion euros, Brussels Ankara – in exacerbating relations with Greece and Cyprus and in independent operations in Syria without taking into account the views of the EU and the US.
The recent statement by French President Emmanuel Macron on supporting the Syrian Kurds and his proposal to establish a dialogue between them and Ankara have demonstrated the gap between EU policy and Turkey’s strategic priorities. “Turkey’s position on the factions” Kurdistan Workers’ Party “,” Democratic Union “,” People’s Self-Defense Forces “is well known. We reject the proposal for dialogue or any contacts with these terrorist elements, “said the official representative of Turkish President Ibrahim Kalyn. Ankara identifies the Kurdish issue with the security of the country, and Erdogan does not intend to go for any compromises.
Relations with Washington are also difficult. Ankara is offended because of Washington s refusal to extradite Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing the very attempt of the coup. The American support for the Kurds remains a stumbling block, however, the United States still cherishes the alliance with Ankara and in June still supported Turkey, agreeing to force Kurdish military formations to leave Manbij. This fits perfectly into the goals of the military operation “Olive Branch”, and now Turkey will receive the cherished buffer zone in the north of Syria. Against this background, two F-35 fighter-bombers were transferred to the Turkish Air Force, despite all the objections of the Congress, and the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed that his country “remains an important ally of the US and will not join any force that would threaten other countries of NATO”.
At the same time, the dispute over the supply of American fighter aircraft in Turkey has not yet been resolved, and the issue of the S-400 missile system remains highly controversial (and the same Chavushoglu said Ankara does not intend to refuse to purchase Russian complexes). In parallel, the Turks engaged in a trade war with the United States, introducing retaliatory measures to establish imposing retaliatory measures on the import duties imposed by Washington on steel and aluminum. In general, US-Turkish relations are unlikely to recover, given the unpredictability of Donald Trump, the firmness of Congress and Erdogan’s desire to demonstrate independence from the West.
As for Russia, Erdogan clearly counts on continuing close cooperation with Moscow, including on joint diplomatic initiatives in Syria. However, it is worth acknowledging that much in this sense will depend on the state of US-Turkish relations – the alliance with Moscow for Erdogan is rather situational. Turkey began to “make friends” with Russia after its relations with the West worsened, and decided to buy Russian weapons when it was refused in the US. But the wind may change, and the opening of the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) will give Turkey additional leverage over Moscow – the union of the Russian “Turkish stream” with TANAP threatens Russia with a loss of control over the prices of raw materials.
Ankara has repeatedly shown itself as an insufficiently reliable partner. And it is worth appearing some disagreements, for example about the policy of the Russian Federation in the Middle East, may well threaten Moscow with a cut-off from the gas redistribution center.
On the other hand, if the representative of the Republican People’s Party Muharrem Inje won the election, this would lead to Ankara’s more friendly relations with the West. To gain trust, the new leadership of the country would have to take a position on restoring strong ties with NATO and resuming peaceful negotiations with the Kurds. However, Inge also promised to respect the agreements reached with Moscow on the S-400 and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and to develop relations with Russia and border states in the spirit of good-neighborliness.