Opinion: Turkey needs Erdogan

Story highlights

  • Yavuz Yigit argues Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make a good president
  • Polls and previous elections show the country also supports Erdogan as its leader
  • The country's presidential elections are this Sunday, and Erdogan is frontrunner

Leading Turkey in a political partnership with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country's prime minister, would be "very good." That's the view of his biggest rival in this weekend's presidential elections, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

The comment might seem unusual for a politician, but it reflects Turkey's admiration for Erdogan.

Ihsanoglu, speaking on Turkish television, continued in the same vein, noting he liked Erdogan's leadership and admired his work as prime minister.

According to the polls, more than half of Turkey agrees. Erdogan has won a record three terms as prime minister and polls show he's likely to win Sunday's presidential elections.

Yavuz Yigit

This is because Erdogan has led the country with actions, not words. Erdogan has always been known by what he has achieved. His oratory is impressive, but it's not his winning point.

Before Erdogan was elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994, there were frequent water cuts, garbage piled through the streets and air pollution. He solved the problems in just three years.

Erdogan then co-established his own party, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and ran in the general elections. He was known colloquially as the saver of Istanbul and in 2002, he was voted in as prime minister, with 34% of the vote.

At the time Turkey was facing its biggest economic crisis. Inflation rate ran above 30% and overnight interest rates had hit 63%.

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Under Erdogan, inflation declined to single digits and GDP tripled. His commitment to doing business with emerging markets such as Russia and China meant the country secured nearly $130 billion in foreign investment, compared to $15 billion during the previous 80 years.

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Visitor numbers soared, from 16 million in 2003 to 35 million in 2013.

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The economic upturn helped Turkey fund schools, hospitals, highways, railways, airways and universities.

And, looking at the figures, it seems naive to question how Erdogan continues to dominate Turkish politics. The recipe is simple: He is beneficial for the people, and they want him as their leader. Further, when compared to the AKP, the opposition party CHP looks incompetent.

But Erdorgan's success is not just economic. Turkey has a long way to go towards full democracy, but Erdogan has tackled three significant problems. Firstly he has, for example, allowed the army to do its one and only job: Be an army.

Secondly, he has backed the "solution process," designed to bring peace with the Kurdish region. The "Kurdish Problem" has cost more than 30,000 lives and up to $450 billion.

Thirdly, Erdogan has also modernized Turkish society by lifting the headscarf ban in universities and public, liberating religious women.

Erdogan, in a first for the country, also expressed condolences to the Armenian people for the massacre in 1915, during WWI.

Further, he initiated reforms that empowered non-Muslim communities, such as the 2008 Law on Foundations that enabled property worth $2.5 billion, previously occupied unjustly by the state, to be returned to minorities.

It won't be a surprise if Erdogan is elected as president. Under his leadership, democratic and economic improvements will continue. It is good now -- and it will hopefully get better.

Read more: Erdogan aims for place in history

Read more: Economic star falls

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