Turkey’s ruling AK party is due to announce its presidential election candidate. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is widely expected to announce his presidential bid, and then emerge victorious in the polls after a 40-day election campaign. Polls give Erdogan around 55 percent of the vote and a 20 point lead.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has made great strides economically and diplomatically but some if not much of that progress has been tarnished by a crackdown over the past year on anti-government protests and a purge of the judiciary and police in response to corruption charges against his acolytes which the premier says represent a plot by shadowy forces to oust him.
If he wins he is expected to exercise far more power than his presidential predecessor. Aides have said he would rule with a “council of wise men” made up partly of close allies and would oversee top government business, effectively sidelining some ministries and ministers.
One of the few potential checks on Erdogan’s leadership is the presidency’s power to throw out legislation, though that has largely been left unexercised by incumbent Abdullah Gul. As president with an iron grip on government, Erdogan would presumably look to rule supreme.
If they are true to their word, EU member states should be deciding today, or if not today very soon, whether to impose tougher sanctions on Russia. Kiev’s ceasefire expired overnight and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said government forces would renew offensive operations against pro-Russian rebels in the east who he blamed for failing to keep a truce.