Erdogan takes on new powers, names son-in-law finance chief

Daniel Fowler
July 12, 2018

Recep Tayyip Erdogan will cap his years-long drive to transform Turkey's government on Monday as he's sworn in as an executive president with vastly expanded powers.

The appointment of Berat Albayrak appeared to rattle the markets amid concerns of nepotism in the upper echelons of power. Erdogan won an absolute majority in the presidential election with 52.5% of the vote, according to Turkey's Supreme Election Council (YSK).

Marc Pierini, a former European Union ambassador to Turkey and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said Erdogan's new powers effectively make him a "super-executive president".

Hardline Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu keeps his job, while Akar's appointment as defense minister was also a surprise and it remains unclear who will replace him as army chief of staff.

Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan fulfilled a long-held ambition on Monday when he was sworn in as president with sweeping new powers over a country he has dominated and reshaped during his 15-year rule. "There is no stopping for us until we bring Turkey - which we saved from plotters, coupists and political and economic hitmen, street gangs and terrorist organisations - to among the top 10 economies in the world", he said. Erdogan took the oath of office at the Turkish Parliament headquarters at the Grand National Assembly chaired by Acting Parliament Speaker Durmus Yilmaz. To his opponents, it is one-man rule and the death of Turkish democracy.

During the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, Erdoğan is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, where he is expected to discuss the recent strained ties between Ankara and Washington, particularly the U.S. partnership with PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the extradition of Fetullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who is the mastermind of the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

But President Erdogan has put religion at the heart of the country and has distanced it from the West.

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Mr Erdogan is the arch polariser and views today are again divided.

He said Turkey would go further in every area in the new era, including democracy, fundamental rights, economy and large investments.

Erdogan referred to the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic.

The Turkish lira lost 3.5 percent in value on the news to trade at 4.73 lira to the dollar. Albayrak, 40, previously served as energy minister and, before that, led a company seen as close to the government.

During the election he was reported to have complained that the sharp drop in the lira this year had been prompted by a "very open and clear operation" against Turkey.

The Turkish president also kept Mevlut Cavusoglu in place as foreign minister and named Fuat Oktay, a former Turkish Airlines executive, as vice president. Erdogan is expected to name a streamlined cabinet of 16 ministers on Monday evening after a ceremony at the presidential palace for more than 7,000 guests, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

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