ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to be sworn in for his second term as head of state on Monday, taking on greater powers than any Turkish leader for decades under a new system condemned by opponents as a one man regime.
Erdogan, who has transformed Turkey in 15 years of rule by allowing Islam a greater role in public life and boosting its international stature, will take his oath almost two years after defeating a bloody attempted coup.
The inauguration in parliament after Erdogan’s June election victory will be followed by a lavish ceremony at his palace attended by dozens of world leaders marking the transition to the new executive presidency system.
Erdogan will face immediate and major challenges posed by an imbalanced if fast-growing economy and foreign policy tensions between the West and Turkey, a NATO member.
He has also pledged to end the state of emergency that has been in place since the failed July 2016 coup and which has seen the biggest purge in the history of modern Turkey.
In what appeared to be the final emergency decree issued just one day before the inauguration, 18,632 public sector employees were ordered dismissed including thousands of soldiers and police officers.
After the inauguration, Erdogan will immediately turn to foreign policy, visiting northern Cyprus and Azerbaijan followed by more challenging encounters at a NATO summit in Brussels where he will meet US counterpart Donald Trump and other leaders.
The new system was agreed in a bitterly fought 2017 referendum narrowly won by the ‘Yes’ camp. The issue still polarises Turkey.
“A partisan one-man regime starts officially today,” said the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper.
Its commentator Asli Aydintasbas wrote: “I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that we entered a ‘second republic’ era,” after the republic set up by Turkey’s secular founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
But the pro-government daily Yeni Safak wrote under the headline “historic day”: “One page is closing in Turkish history and a new page is opening.”
The president will sit at the top of a vertical power structure marked by a slimmed-down government with 16 ministries instead of 26 and multiple bodies reporting to him.
In one of the most significant changes, the EU affairs ministry, set up in 2011 to oversee Turkey’s faltering bid to join the bloc, will be subsumed into the foreign ministry.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will on Monday go down in history as the 27th and final holder of the post in Turkey. He is expected to become speaker of the new parliament.