Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s long-time president, is set to be sworn in for his third term on Saturday. The focus is on the announcement of his new Cabinet. This will indicate whether the country will continue with unorthodox economic policies or revert to more conventional ones in response to a cost-of-living crisis.
Erdogan, aged 69, secured a new five-year term in a runoff presidential race last week, potentially extending his rule to 25 years. Turkey, with its population of 85 million, possesses NATO’s second-largest army and hosts millions of refugees. Which played a crucial role in brokering a deal to facilitate the shipment of Ukrainian grain, averting a global food crisis.
The oath of office will be taken by Erdogan in parliament, followed by an inauguration ceremony at his vast palace complex. The members of his new Cabinet will be revealed during a separate ceremony on the same day.
Numerous foreign dignitaries, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, are expected to attend the ceremony. They are likely to pressure Erdogan to lift Turkey’s objections to Sweden’s membership in the military alliance. Which requires unanimous approval from all allies.
Turkey accuses Sweden of being too lenient on Kurdish militants and other groups considered as terrorists by Turkey. NATO aims to include Sweden in the alliance before the meeting of allied leaders in Lithuania on July 11-12. But Turkey and Hungary have yet to endorse the bid.
Erdogan assumes office amid several domestic challenges, including an ailing economy. The pressure to repatriate millions of Syrian refugees, and the need for reconstruction following a devastating earthquake in February. That claimed 50,000 lives and razed entire cities in the southern part of the country.
Turkey Grapples with Cost-of-Living Crisis
The country is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis driven by inflation. Which peaked at an alarming 85% in October but eased to 44% last month. The Turkish currency has depreciated over 10% against the dollar since the beginning of the year.
Critics attribute the turmoil to Erdogan’s policy of lowering interest rates to stimulate growth. Which contradicts conventional economic wisdom that suggests raising rates to combat inflation.
Unconfirmed media reports suggest that Erdogan plans to reappoint Mehmet Simsek, a respected former finance minister and deputy prime minister, to lead the economy. Such a move would signal a return to more orthodox economic policies for Turkey. The world’s 19th largest economy according to the World Bank.
Having been in power as prime minister and president since 2003, Erdogan is already the longest-serving leader in Turkey’s history. He has solidified his rule through constitutional changes. That has transformed the presidency from a largely ceremonial role into a position of significant power. Critics argue that his second decade in office has been marked by a notable democratic regression, including the erosion of institutions such as the media and judiciary, as well as the imprisonment of opponents and critics.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan defeated opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in a runoff vote on May 28 to secure a third term. After narrowly missing an outright victory in the first round of voting on May 14. Kilicdaroglu had promised to steer Turkey towards a more democratic path and improve relations with the West. International observers deemed the elections to be free but not entirely fair.