Jul 10 2018

International media reacts to Turkey’s executive presidency

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's inauguration as head of Turkey’s new executive presidential system of government was greeted as a “dark day for democracy” by Germany’s state broadcaster, while Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hailed the Turkish strongman as the “leader of the new multi-polar world”.

The inauguration ceremony in Ankara late on Monday introduced an all-powerful presidency for Turkey, effectively ending parliamentary democracy. While Erdoğan’s plans for full executive authority were praised by his allies in Central Asia, Africa and Venezuela, they were met with silence by the West, and with caution and trepidation by the international media and foreign investors.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle took a less enthusiastic view in an editorial published on Monday, calling the swearing in ceremony a “dark day for democracy”, and adding, “Turkey has never been a picture-perfect democracy at any point in its 90-year-long existence. However, the extensive disempowerment of parliament has finally placed the country in the same category as Egypt or Russia.”

Maduro was one of 22 heads of state who attended the ceremony and heaped praise on his host. News website Balkan Insight noted the large number of Balkan leaders who attended Mondays ceremony, suggesting it was a sign of Turkey’s growing influence in the region, and contrasted this with the lack of Western leaders present.

Others focused on the challenges ahead as well as the course Erdoğan is likely to plot now that he has assumed the new powers.

Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera highlighted comments Erdoğan made after the swearing in ceremony, promising to improve Turkey in every area.

“Erdoğan will have to address urgent questions in Turkey such as the fate of more than 3 million Syrian refugees living in the country, the progress of the war across the border, a faltering economy and a weakening currency,” wrote journalist Kareem Shaeen in British newspaper the Guardian.

Seth Frantzman wrote in the Jerusalem Post: “Erdoğan’s new term promises to seek to revive Turkey’s influence on the regional and world stage after years of turmoil that saw a coup attempt in 2016 and widening Turkish involvement in the conflict in Syria.”

The make-up of Erdoğan’s new cabinet, announced on Monday night was a topic of particular interest, as it provides hints of Turkey’s future direction. The appointment of Erdoğan’s son-in law Berat Albayrak as finance minister drew much attention, with the BBC Turkish correspondent, pointing out that more market friendly candidates were overlooked for the post.

Albayrak will need to move fast to reassure markets said Tim Ash, a senior economist at asset managers BlueBay’s emerging market team.