Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has controlled Turkey for 17 long years. First as prime minister and now as president. In 17 years, he has made Turkey an autocracy, a one-man show.
This show is now getting bad reviews. So, Erdogan wants to change the rules. The poll numbers for Erdogan are dropping and supporters of his party are disenchanted. They are drifting away because economic growth has slowed.
The Lira has nose-dived and Erdogan’s allies are breaking away to form rival parties. According to a compilation of 15 recent opinion polls, support for Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted justice and development party or AKP has fallen to 36% from 42% in the last election. This is a significant drop for a ruling party, especially for one that has been in power for 17 years and one that has been on a losing spree in 2019.
Municipal polls were held in Turkey and Erdogan’s party suffered defeat in three very important cities, Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.
These are three of the largest cities in Turkey. The elections here were won by opposition parties. It’s been more than a year and there are growing fears that these embarrassing losses could transform into a wider nationwide loss in the 2023 elections. Pollsters say the Turkish President should be worried and it seems he is, which is why President Erdogan is trying to change the election rules.
In a recent public address, he said, “We are starting extensive work regarding changing political party and election regulations to improve democratic participation.”
What does it mean? The Turkish President did not bother to explain. His party officials have anonymously revealed that these plans include two primary things, one dividing large urban electoral districts into smaller constituencies and two, reducing the threshold for entering Parliament from 10% to 7%.
The first move could significantly boost the number of lawmakers from Erdogan’s party and the second one will set barriers for opposition parties in entering Parliament.
It’s quite a smart strategy and Erdogan is already laying the groundwork for it. He is trying to win public support ahead of these planned changes. He has eased coronavirus restrictions, lifted night-time curfews for weekends and promised measures to improve human rights, press freedoms, freedom of expression and new policies to curb violence against women. Erdogan says these measures would be implemented in the next two years with the ultimate aim of drafting a new constitution.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president, Turkey, said, “In order to enhance standards related to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, we are developing measures aimed at easing the professional activities of journalists.”
“We are educating law-enforcement officials as well as shopping district and neighbourhood guards on issues that constitute ill-treatment. We are removing the statute of limitations concerning disciplinary investigations over torture allegations.”
“The ultimate aim of our (human rights) action plan is a new and civilian constitution.”
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