Ankara (AFP) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to be sworn in as head of state on Saturday after winning a historic run-off to extend his two-decade rule by five years as Turkey’s economic woes worsen.
The inauguration in parliament will be followed by a lavish ceremony at his palace in the capital Ankara attended by dozens of world leaders.
Turkey’s transformative but divisive leader won the May 28 runoff against a powerful opposition coalition, despite an economic crisis and heavy criticism following a devastating earthquake in February that killed more of 50,000 people.
Erdogan won 52.18% of the vote while his secular rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu 47.82%, according to official results.
Turkey’s longest-serving leader faces immediate and major challenges in his third term, driven by a decelerating economy and foreign policy tensions with the West.
“From a geopolitical perspective, the election will reinforce Turkey’s recent pursuit of an independent foreign policy,” said Matt Gertken, chief geopolitical strategist at BCA Research.
“This policy aims to extract maximum economic and strategic benefits from Eastern and autocratic states while preventing a permanent severance of relations with Western democracies,” he said.
“Tensions with the West are likely to rise again, within this framework, now that Erdogan has a new mandate.”
Solving the country’s economic problems will be Erdogan’s top priority with inflation at 43.70%, partly due to his unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to boost growth.
Late Saturday, the president is due to unveil his new cabinet with media speculating that former finance minister Mehmet Simsek, a reassuring figure of international stature, could play a role.
A former Merrill Lynch economist, Simsek is known to oppose Erdogan’s unconventional policies.
He was finance minister between 2009 and 2015 and deputy prime minister for the economy until 2018, before stepping down ahead of a series of book falls that year.
“Erdogan’s government appears to be pursuing an orthodox stabilization agenda,” said Alp Erinc Yeldan, an economics professor at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.
“What we are seeing now is that the news about Mehmet Simsek and his team is being greeted enthusiastically by the markets,” he told AFP.
Turkey’s new MPs began taking the oath on Friday in a first session after the May 14 elections, which Erdogan also took part in.
His alliance holds a majority in the 600-seat parliament.
Erdogan’s victory came against a unified opposition coalition led by Kilicdaroglu, whose future as leader of the CHP party remains uncertain after the defeat.
NATO chief visits
NATO allies are eagerly waiting for Ankara to greenlight Sweden’s drive to join the US-led defense alliance ahead of a July summit.
Erdogan dragged his feet in approving the request, accusing Stockholm of harboring “terrorists” from the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will attend Erdogan’s inauguration this weekend and hold talks with him, the alliance announced on Friday.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Twitter that “a clear message” emerged at a NATO meeting in Oslo for Turkey and Hungary to start the ratification process.
His Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, replied: “A clear message to our Swedish friends! Respect your commitments resulting from the trilateral memorandum and take concrete measures in the fight against terrorism.
“The rest will follow.”
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