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Turkey has been through a lot since last year when factions in the army tried to pull of a failed coup attempt. Since then Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been looking to consolidate his power since before that time proposing a new constitution that has seen Turkey transformed from a parliamentary republic to a presidential system. The coup attempt provided him with the opportunity to hold the referendum that would see him succeed in that transition and gain dictatorial powers. Since he won that referendum by a land slide and re-elected president on 24 June.
This week Erdogan formally took the inaugural oath that will see him have power to appoint a cabinet, regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval, making him a dictator effectively.
The Turkish lira, which has lost nearly a fifth nearly of its value against the dollar this year, dropped nearly 3 percent to 4.74 to the U.S. currency after the cabinet announcement. Erdogan named his son-in-law Berat Albayrak as treasury and finance minister in an updated cabinet that excluded former deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, seen as the main market- friendly minister in the previous government. 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.
The idea that Erdogan would appoint his son-in law to the position of Finance and Treasury Minister smacks of nepotism of the highest standard. Such a move would not have been acceptable in any other mature democracy. It is no wonder the Lira has dropped and investors are nervous about the new road Turkey is going down. The Turkish currency could certainly do with some new fiscal reforms although it remains to be seen what can be achieved in the face of the president’s decision to keep interests low. The people will certainly have to question the president’s wisdom in appointing a close member of his family to such a lucrative government position. Albayrak who is married to one of the president’s daughters is simply called the “son-in-law” by Erdogan’s aides.
In a referendum last year, Turkish voters approved a series of comprehensive changes that granted significantly more powers to the president, eliminated the prime minister position and increased the size of the country’s parliament, to name a few. Erdogan has described the consolidation as a means to eliminate governmental inefficiency, and his base views his consolidation as a means to eliminate governmental ineffiecincy, and his base views his consolidation of authority as deservedly outcome for a leader who has instilled Islamic values in public life, according to Reuters. But the political opposition has raised concerns about Erdogan’s extended authority.
The Turks are deeply divided over the new executive presidency of Erdogan, it represents a violation of democratic principles such as transparency and accountability. European Union Representatives have denounced Erdogan for “institutionalizing autocracy” while the opposition parties and its supporters see the erosion of the secular national values that were enforced by the Turkish Republic’s founder Mustafa Kamel Ataturk after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. If Erdogan believes he can overcome government inefficiency and grow the economy through having more power centralized under his grasp then he is sadly mistaken.
Many dictators have fallen when they sort to appoint close family members to positions of power or when they arrange for their own children to succeed them. They believe they can make their country greater or mislead their people to think they can by increasing their powers at the expense of individual freedoms. This has often led to them been unpopular and has seen their removal from power. Why should Erdogan be any different?