Why May 14 will present a greater-than-it-seems challenge for Erdogan?


This weekend, a man who has been dominating Turkish politics for 20 years, will seek to secure another five years as president. But the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14 have been widely described as the toughest challenge he has yet to face.

Also Read – After Months Of Political Deadlock, Turkey’s Erdogan Backs Finland’s NATO Bid

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the longest-serving leader Turkey has ever known. He served as the prime minister from 2003 to 2014, before taking on the role of president. The 69-year-old eventually won a referendum in 2017 that concentrated power in the president’s hands.

Varying Opinions

Turks opting to cast their votes in Sunday’s elections will likely factor in rampant inflation, a deepening cost of living crisis, and the deadly February earthquakes that have caused people to criticise the government’s disaster response and failure to enforce building regulations.

“He has to go … It is through his rule that contractors were allowed to get away with building such poor buildings that collapsed,” said Furkan Ozbilgin, a resident of Antakya, the city worst affected by the tremors and a stronghold for the opposition.

However, Erdogan also has a number of supporters who continuously highlight his successes over the years and see him as a president who can handle Turkey’s current troubles. “We have seen what he’s done for this country,” said Ahmet Gokkaya, a shopkeeper in Istanbul.

Rising through the ranks

Erdogan’s first political role arrived in 1976 as the head of the Beyoglu youth branch of the National Salvation Party. He swiftly rose through the political ranks, becoming the mayor of Istanbul in 1994.

Erdogan addressed a number of issues facing the city’s growing population, including rubbish collection, air pollution, and a shortage of clean water. But four years later, he caught the attention of the courts for reciting a controversial poem.

He eventually received a four-month prison sentence for inciting religious discrimination. Getting out of jail in July 1999 with a ban from politics still effective, Erdogan established the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) a couple of years later.

Fifteen months after the party’s formation, it won the 2002 elections amid a financial crisis. Erdogan, however, was unable to take office as prime minister until March of the following year due to his ban from politics.

Also Read – Erdogan signals Turkey’s elections to be on May 14

Next began 20 years of power. Erdogan has been applauded for the first decade in which the government embraced democratic reforms as Turkey sought to join the EU. The president was also hailed for addressing the rights of women and minorities as well as for loosening the military’s grip on the country. But the past decade has been troublesome.



Alaina is a young writer passionate about sharing her work with the world. She has a strong interest in new writing styles and is always trying to find ways to be more creative.

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