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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Person of the week
Victory bolsters Turkish president’s pursuit of power
     2015-November-6  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    WITH a stunning landslide victory for his party in Sunday’s parliamentary election, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has revived his ambition to establish an executive system of government, with him at its head, only a few months after political analysts had pronounced that aim dead.

    The president was still licking his wounds from a drubbing in June elections that saw his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lose its majority in parliament when he assured a crowd of supporters in August that he was still very much in charge, despite the constitutional limits on the powers of his office.

    “There is a president with de facto power in the country, not a symbolic one,” Erdogan told the crowd in his hometown, the Black Sea city of Rize. “The president should conduct his duties for the nation directly, but within his authority. Whether one accepts it or not, Turkey’s administrative system has changed. Now, what should be done is update this de facto situation in the legal framework of the constitution.”

    The margin of victory Sunday did not give Erdogan enough votes to immediately revamp Turkey’s constitution, a document that was written by the military overseers after a coup in 1980, and which many political leaders say needs to be refashioned to enshrine more democratic rights for minorities, such as Kurds. The AKP earned 317 seats in the 550-seat parliament, just shy of the 330 that are required to bring a new constitution to a referendum.

    Even so, Erdogan secured his grip on the Turkish political system for at least four more years despite polls before the election that had predicted a result similar to June’s. Erdogan has said he envisions a presidency with powers even greater than that of the president in the American system.

    Born in the Kasimpasa neighborhood of Istanbul to which his family had moved from Rize Province, Erdogan spent his early childhood in Rize, where his father was a member of the Turkish Coast Guard.

    The family returned to Istanbul when Erdogan was 13 years old. As a teenager, he sold lemonade and sesame buns on the streets of the city’s rougher districts to earn extra money.

    Brought up in an observant Muslim family, Erdogan studied business administration at the Aksaray School of Economics and Commercial Sciences. He married Emine Gulbaran in 1978, and they have two sons and two daughters.

    A semi-professional soccer player playing for Kasimpasa Spor Kulubu between 1969 and 1982 and a National Turkish Student Union member in his younger days, he was elected as the mayor of Istanbul from the Islamist Welfare Party in 1994.

    He was banned from office and sentenced to prison for 10 months after reciting a religiously intolerant poem in Siirt Province in 1998. Abandoning openly Islamist politics, he founded AKP in 2001 and lead it to a nearly two-thirds parliamentary majority win in the 2002 general election.

    Abdullah Gul became Prime Minister and served until his government annulled Erdogan’s political ban with the help of Republican People’s Party, allowing him to run for parliament in a by-election and to take over as prime minister in March 2003.

    Early during his years as prime minister, Erdogan was praised as a role model for emerging Middle Eastern nations due to several reform packages initiated by his government that expanded religious freedom and minority rights as part of accession negotiations with the European Union (EU).

    As part of his “2023 vision” for the centenary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic, Erdogan’s government oversaw accession negotiations for Turkey’s membership of the EU, an economic recovery following a financial crash in 2001, two successful constitutional referendums in 2007 and 2010, a Solution process with Kurdish militants, an allegedly Neo-Ottoman foreign policy and investments in infrastructure that included new roads, airports and a high-speed train network.

    However, the nationwide Gezi Park protests broke out in 2013 against the growing authoritarianism of Erdogan’s government. An internationally criticized crackdown on protestors by the police and AKP youth members led to 22 deaths, resulting in Turkish opinion leader Fethullah Gulen withdrawing support from the AKP and EU ascension talks stalling.

    A US$100 billion government corruption scandal in 2013 led to the arrests of Erdogan’s close allies, with Erdogan himself incriminated after a recording was released on social media.

    Blaming the scandal on a coup attempt by a parallel structure formed of Gulen’s supporters in high judicial offices, Erdogan implemented large-scale reforms to the police and judicial systems that were criticized for placing the judiciary’s independence in doubt.

    In July 2014, Erdogan was named the AKP’s presidential candidate in the Turkish presidential election. Erdogan was elected as the president of Turkey in the first round of the election with 51.79 percent of the vote, obviating the need for a run-off by winning more than 50 percent. Erdogan took the oath of office in August 2014 and became the 12th president of Turkey.

    In terms of his successes in elections and referenda, Erdogan is one of the most successful politicians in the Republican era of Turkish history. Since 1994, he has taken part in three general elections, three local elections, one by-election and two referenda, none of which he lost.

    Even in the absence of a new constitution, Erdogan will continue to wield enormous influence. In September, he added more loyalists to its governing committee, even though by law he is supposed to remain impartial and above partisan politics.

    Naz Masraff, the director for Europe at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said in an interview that Erdogan would “continue to head Cabinet meetings as he deems necessary, block various appointments, delay government bills, and will eventually push for a formal switch to a presidential system when he deems the timing is right.”

    “But until then Turkey will be ruled under a de facto executive presidency,” Masraff said.

    Erdogan’s victory not only revitalized his presidential ambitions, but it may also have restored some shine to his position as a regional Islamist leader. (SD-Agencies)

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