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Turkey - Politics - 2014 Election

June 2013 witnessed days of some of the most violent riots in years. Police moved into Istanbul's Taksim square, the center of more than 10 days of anti-government protest, after dawn June 11, 2013. Turkish riot police pushed through barricades at Taksim Square, firing tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters. Some demonstrators threw stones, fireworks and firebombs at police. In Turkey's largest city, police moved against protesters in a square that had been the center of nationwide unrest against the government. The move came as the prime minister was due to meet with demonstrators.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the protests as the work of secularist enemies who never accepted the mandate of his Islamist AKP party, which has won three straight elections. He rejected comparisons with the Arab Spring uprising, saying that the protesters had no support in the general population and giving no indication he was prepared to compromise. Rights groups said hundreds of security personnel and protesters were injured in the violence, pitting stone-throwing protesters against riot police firing tear gas and water cannons. In contrast to Erdogan's comments, President Abdullah Gul urged calm and defended the right of citizens to protest. The police crackdown on protesters in Istanbul appeared to anger many secular Turks, who accuse Erdogan's decade-old, Islamist-rooted government of becoming increasingly authoritarian. According to the interior minister, 90 protests occurred in 48 Turkish cites. More than 1,700 people had been detained and many more were injured, some seriously.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc deputy prime minister apologized 04 June 2013 for the police crackdown on a demonstration that sparked nationwide anti-government protests. The gesture came on the fifth day of unrest, with a national trade union beginning a two-day strike. Pressure on the government continues to grow, with members of Turkeys 240,000-strong public sector workers union launching a two-day nationwide strike. The leftist union is a strong critic of the government. Earlier this year, police raided its national offices, and dozens of its officials are on trial under the countrys anti-terrorism law.

Continuing protests will not help the prime ministers desire to change the constitution and increase his own power, and certainly not Turkeys effort to join the European Union. The AK Party, the Islamist-inspired movement of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to power in and was re-elected in 2011 with 50 percent of the vote.

Three weeks after violent clashes between protestors and the Turkish government, by 20 June 2013 calm had been restored. The aggressive police response to anti-government protests in Turkey left four people dead and many injured. Many more had been arrested. But peaceful protests continue and many people wondered how the confrontation will end. Thousands of people now expressed their anger with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan by standing silent and motionless in streets and squares - a new tactic that they hope will deter police violence. Taksim Squarel, the scene of violent protests, returned to normal, although Turkish police now occupied nearby Gezi Park, whose proposed demolition sparked the clashes. And they kept a close watch on the square where protesters maintained a silent standing vigil.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's democratic reform package faced criticism following the Justice Ministry's revelation in October 2013 that 20,000 people had been convicted under the country's anti-terrorism law during the past four years, 8,000 of whom were jailed just in the past 12 months. Most of them, including journalists and members of the country's legal Kurdish party, were jailed for non-violent offenses. The law was introduced in 1991 to counter an insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. But concerns were growing that the law was increasingly used to target critics of the government. Around 40,000 people had been prosecuted for membership of armed organizations, and half of them received convictions under that law. Turkeys legal pro-Kurdish Party, the BDP, claims over 6,000 of its members are being held under the law, including dozens of mayors. The European Unions annual progress report released 16 October 2013 strongly criticized Turkey over freedom of expression and assembly, and called for legal and judicial reform.

Turkeys Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors on January 10, 2014 condemned government proposals to curb its powers, calling them unconstitutional. The proposed reforms come after prosecutors launched corruption investigations targeting people close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including the sons of three cabinet ministers. The board, which controls Turkeys judges and prosecutors, made its comments in a 66-page statement as the parliament began debating the plan, which would give the government greater say over the membership of the board of judges and its decisions.

After riots in March 2014, several parties called on their supporters for calm and restraint, because of the danger that provocateurs could cause more bloodshed. But Erdogan and the AKP had an interest in increasing tensions before the local election on 30 March 2014. Many AKP voters were uneasy because of allegations of corruption against the government and the prime minister's increasingly authoritarian style. The party aimed to win back these voters. The AKP wanted to raise tensions and present itself as the victim of attacks to rally its followers. The danger was that political chaos could arise.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose government was mired in corruption allegations, declared the 30 March 2014 local elections a referendum on his rule. The election was one of toughest and most polarizing in the countrys history. During the campaign the popular social media platforms Twitter and YouTube were banned after they helped disseminate audio of alleged conversations implicating government ministers in corruption and political misdeeds. All the main political parties voiced concerns over the fairness of the elections. Unprecedented numbers of election monitors drawn from the political parties and non-partisan groups scrutinized the ballot count. The party of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan led key local elections, according to initial results. Clashes in rural areas during the vote resulted in at least eight deaths.

With nearly all of the ballots counted, Erdogans Justice and Development Party (AKP) led with 45 percent of the votes, while the opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) gained about 28.5 percent. Erdogan thanked his followers and called for further actions against opposition. The harsh tone taken by the Turkish PM in Ankara indicated a strong action against the opponents is on its way. "From tomorrow, there may be some who flee," Erdogan said last night.

Erdogan appeared to rule out continuing as prime minister, saying he was opposed to changing a party regulation forbidding a fourth term. His close allies also forcefully argue that the presidency should have greater powers than its current largely ceremonial role. That's because, they argue, this is the first time a president will be elected by popular vote. But previous efforts to enhance presidential powers failed because opposition parties opposed such a move. They fear that changing the regime into a Putin-like presidential system, where there are no checks or balances, will deepen the existing tensions and polarizations and antagonisms that exist in this society.

A majority of deputies in the AK Party voted in a secret ballot on 16 April 2014 in favor of an Erdogan presidential bid. On 18 April 2014 President Abdullah Gul ruled out a job swap with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan when his term as head of state ends in a few months, indicating the strains between the two following months of political tension. I don't have any political plan for the future under today's conditions, Gul told reporters.

Turkey held a presidential election on 10 August 2014 as incumbent Abdullah Gul's seven-year term expires. The president had previously been chosen by parliament and played a largely ceremonial role, but the election will give the presidency more authority. A second round would be held on August 24 if no candidate wins a simple majority in the first round. It will be the first time Turkey's head of state is elected by the voters and not by the parliament following a change of the constitution.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially declared on 01 July 2014 that he will run for president in an August election. The question was not whether Turks will elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan as president of Turkey after 12 years of him occupying the post of prime minister and enjoying a steadily growing share of votes. International attention was more focused on whether the religiously conservative leader will gain a majority in the first ballot round, set for August 10.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was the joint candidate of the main opposition parties in parliament. But the 71-year-old -- an academic and veteran diplomat -- was relatively unknown as a political figure. Ihsanoglu presented himself as a moderate, and sought to attract youth and middle-class liberals who had become disaffected with Erdogan's stewardship of the government, which critics say bordered on authoritarianism. The third candidate was Selahattin Demirtas, 41-year-old Kurd who leads the left-wing People's Democratic Party. Demirtas campaigned on a platform of diversity and is hoping to draw support from left-leaning Turks.

Opinion polls predicted Erdogan would garner about 55 percent of the vote. Ihsanoglu was polling around 40 percent, while Demirtas was a very distant third. Erdogan's popularity was unscathed despite large antigovernment protests and a damaging corruption scandal. Erdogan's supporters pointed to his successes in promoting rapid economic growth, reconciliation efforts with the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), and keeping the military out of politics.

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Page last modified: 15-07-2016 19:24:10 ZULU