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Erdogan to run for president
July 1, 2014, 3:32 pm

Erdogan has been endorsed as the AKP candidate for a presidential election in August [PPIO]

Erdogan has been endorsed as the AKP candidate for a presidential election in August [PPIO]

Four thousand members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) gathered in the Turkish capital Ankara have endorsed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as their candidate for an upcoming presidential election.

The election on August 24 marks a turning point in Turkey’s political history as it allows voters for the first time to directly elect a president; in previous transfer of power it was the parliament that elected the once ceremonial post.

With the AKP having won the past six national and local elections, Erdogan can count on considerable electoral support and is expected to easily win the election in the first round.

He has said that the new president will have more power and capacity than just a ceremonial role.

The two largest opposition parties – the Republicans (CHP) and the Nationalists (MHP) – have both supported former Organisation of Islamic Cooperation chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu as their presidential candidate.

The pro-Kurdish party on Monday announced its candidate would be Selahattin Demirtas, a lawyer and politician.

Erdogan’s continuing rise

Erdogan has weathered a difficult year. The local elections held at the end of March were largely seen as a vote of confidence in both his efficacy as a leader and his AK party’s dominance of the Turkish political landscape.

Despite a corruption probe launched against many of his business and political allies and leaked recordings of yet another financial scandal, the AKP overwhelmingly routed the opposition.

Human rights organisations and some EU states have also criticised Erdogan for the way he handled last year’s Gezi Park anti-government protests that lasted all summer and effectively locked down the city centre, leaving tourists in clouds of tear gas for months.

But Erdogan still enjoys considerable popularity as the leader who revolutionised the Turkish economy, effectively ended a Kurdish rebellion in the east through mostly diplomatic means, and thrown Ankara into the world stage as a major player in the Middle East.

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