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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a Turkish politician serving as the current President of Turkey, holding the position since 2014, and serving as the de facto leader of Turkey since 2002. He previously served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 and as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. He founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001, leading it to general election victories in 2002, 2007 and 2011 before standing down upon his election as President in 2014. Coming from an Islamist political background and as a self-described conservative democrat, he has promoted socially conservative and liberal economic policies in his administration. He was re-elected in the 2018 general election and will assume the role of Executive President and become both the head of state and head of government.[1]

Online History

Ascension to Power

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became the new Prime Minister of Turkey after new election for 9 February 2003. By this time, party leader Erdoğan was able to run for parliament due to a legal change made possible by the opposition Republican People's Party. The AKP duly listed Erdoğan as a candidate for the rescheduled election, which he won, becoming Prime Minister after Gül handed over the post.[2]

On the elections of July 2007, Erdoğan and the AKP won an important victory over the opposition, garnering 46.7% of the popular vote. This election marked only the second time in the Republic of Turkey's history whereby an incumbent governing party won an election by increasing its share of popular support.[3]

Erdogan 2003 election Erdogann

In the June 2011 elections, Erdoğan's governing party won 327 seats (49.83% of the popular vote) making Erdoğan the only prime minister in Turkey's history to win three consecutive general elections, each time receiving more votes than the previous election. The second party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), received 135 seats (25.94%), the nationalist MHP received 53 seats (13.01%), and the Independents received 35 seats (6.58%)[4]


On August 28th, 2014, Erdoğan took the oath of office and became the 12th president of Turkey. He administered the new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's oath on 29 August. When asked about his lower-than-expected 51.79% share of the vote, he allegedly responded, "there were even those who did not like the Prophet. I, however, won 52%." Assuming the role of President, Erdoğan was criticized for openly stating that he would not maintain the tradition of presidential neutrality. Erdoğan has also stated his intention to pursue a more active role as President, such as utilising the President's rarely used cabinet-calling powers. [5]


2016 Turkish Coup d'état Attempt

On July 15th, 2016, a coup d'état was attempted in Turkey by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that organized themselves as the Peace at Home Council against state institutions, including the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul, and elsewhere, killing over 300 people and injuring 2,100 because the Council cited an erosion of secularism, elimination of democratic rule, disregard for human rights, and Turkey's loss of credibility in the international arena as their reason for the coup but they failed to do so after forces loyal to the state defeated them. Erdoğan and the government leaders accused the coup leaders of being linked to the Gülen movement, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the Republic of Turkey and led by Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish businessman and cleric who lives in Pennsylvania.[6]

TurkeyCoup PurgErdogan

After the coup, an extensive purge of the Turkish civil service began, with at least 40,000 detained, including at least 10,000 soldiers and, for reasons that remain unclear, 2,745 judges. 15,000 education staff were also suspended and the licenses of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions were revoked as well after the government alleged they were loyal to Güle. More than 50,000 people have been arrested and over 160,000 fired from their jobs, on accusations of connections to Gülen. [7]

2018 Turkish General Election

General elections were held throughout Turkey on June 24th, 2018. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the majority of votes in Sunday's high-stakes election, according to election officials. Around 59 million people were eligible to vote in both presidential and parliamentary elections Sunday with the participation rate being 90%, an extraordinarily high number for any election. But the opposition cried foul, claiming that state media and the election commission had manipulated the results and saying it was too early to be sure of the outcome.[8]


Image and Perception

Early during his prime ministership, Erdoğan was praised as a role model for emerging Middle Eastern nations due to several reform packages initiated by his government which expanded religious freedoms and minority rights as part of accession negotiations with the European Union. However, his government underwent several crises including the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon cases against the Turkish Armed Forces, corruption scandals, accusations of media intimidation, as well as the pursuit of an increasingly polarising political agenda; the opposition accused the government of inciting political hatred throughout the country. [9]


Tayyip Erdoğan Gollum Meme

In early October 2015, Turkish doctor Bilgin Çiftçi was expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey for sharing a "totally looks like" image comparing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Gollum on Facebook (shown below). Additionally, Çiftçi was charged by authorities for violating a Turkish penal code stating that insults against the president are punishable by up to four years in prison.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan J. R. R. Tolkien Gollum Turkey The Lord of the Rings face facial expression head human

During Çiftçi's trial, he argued that the image was not insulting since the character is often interpreted as a hero. The judge subsequently called for an expert panel to evauluate Çiftçi's defense made up of academics, psychologists and an expert on film and television, who would examine the case until the court reconvenes in February. On December 2nd, 2015, Redditor Karrakan posted an article about the court cast to /r/worldnews.[10] Within 12 hours, the post gathered more than 6,600 votes (97% upvoted) and 1,300 comments. The same day, Redditor SmokeyBare posted the image to /r/pics,[11] where it reached the front page with upwards of 8,900 votes (97% upvoted) and 2,400 comments within the first six hours. In the comments section, many Redditors noted the event was an example of the Streisand Effect.

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Vladimir Putin

[2] Wikipedia – 2002 election

[3] Wikipedia– 2007election

[4] Turkish Weekly– 2011 election

[5] Wikipedia – Erdogan Presidency

[6] Wikipedia – 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt

[7] Wikipedia – 50 2016–present purges in Turkey

[8] CNN – Turkey 2018 Election

[9] Wikipedia – Erdogan's Public Image

href="" target="_blank" class=" external-link">Turkish doctor faces 2 years in jail

[10] Reddit – Erdogan hates this meme enough to jail a man over it

[11] DHA – Referee to study Gollum over probe for insulting Erdoğan

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