Long-serving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to be sworn in for his third term on Saturday.
All eyes are on the announcement of his new cabinet – its composition likely to show whether there will be a continuation of unorthodox economic policies or a return to more conventional strategies amid a cost of living crisis.
Erdogan, 69, won a new five-year term in a presidential runoff last week that could extend his 20-year rule in the key NATO country that straddles Europe and Asia to a quarter of a century. The country of 85 million controls NATO’s second-largest army, is home to millions of refugees and played a crucial role in negotiating a deal that allowed grain shipments from Ukraine, averting a global food crisis.
Erdogan is scheduled to take his oath of office in parliament, followed by an inauguration ceremony at his sprawling palace complex. He is due to announce the members of his new cabinet later on Saturday at a separate ceremony.
Dozens of foreign dignitaries have traveled to attend the ceremony, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Carl Bildt, a senior former Swedish prime minister. They are expected to urge Erdogan to overturn his country’s objections to Sweden’s membership in the military alliance – which will require the unanimous approval of all allies.
Turkey has accused Sweden of being too lenient towards Kurdish militants and other groups Turkey considers terrorists. NATO wants Sweden to join the alliance by the July 11-12 meeting of Allied leaders in Lithuania, but Turkey and Hungary have yet to agree to the offer.
Erdogan is taking the oath of office amid a range of domestic challenges, including a struggling economy, pressure to repatriate millions of Syrian refugees and the need to rebuild after a devastating earthquake in February that killed 50,000 people and leveled entire cities in the south the land were made equal.
The country is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis fueled by inflation, which peaked at a staggering 85% in October before slowing to 44% last month. The Turkish currency has lost more than 10% of its value against the dollar since the beginning of the year.
Critics blame the turmoil on Erdogan’s policy of cutting interest rates to boost growth. This goes against conventional economic thinking, which calls for raising interest rates to fight inflation.
According to unconfirmed media reports, Erdogan plans to reappoint Mehmet Simsek, a respected former finance minister and deputy prime minister, to head the economy. The move would mark a return of the country – which is the world’s 19th largest economy according to the World Bank – to more orthodox economic policies.
Erdogan has been in power as prime minister and then president since 2003 and is already Turkey’s longest-serving head of state. He has consolidated his rule through constitutional changes that transformed the Turkish presidency from a largely ceremonial role into a powerful office. Critics say his second decade in office has been marked by drastic democratic backsliding, including the weakening of institutions such as the media and judiciary, and the imprisonment of opponents and critics.
Erdogan defeated opposition challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu in a May 28 runoff after narrowly failing to secure an overall victory in the first round on May 14. Kilicdaroglu had promised to put Turkey on a more democratic path and improve relations with the West. International observers considered the elections free but not fair.
Kiper reported from Bodrum, Türkiye.