Erdogan’s Hinting at Retirement as Turkey’s Local Elections Near

Erdogan’s Hinting at Retirement as Turkey’s Local Elections Near


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted at his potential retirement after his current government’s mandate expires. At a speech at TÜGVA, an Islamist student and youth foundation that features Erdogan’s son on its advisory board, the President said the following over the upcoming local elections on March 31: 

“I am working non-stop. We’re running around breathlessly because it’s a final for me, this is my last election with the authorisation given by the law, and the result will be the transfer of trust for my brothers who will come after me.” 

His speech was in part defined by references to the Century of Türkiye”, an all-encompassing nationalist aspiration to pursue and accomplish greater power and progress at home and abroad with a view of elevating the country to great power status.

In this vision, three key dates of deeply consequential symbolic and historical importance for Turkey’s official state-approved historiography and constructed nationalism stand out. 

  1. 2023, is the year marking the centennial of the Republic’s founding by Turkish ethnarch and “father” of the nation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. 
  2. 2053, which will mark 600 years since the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans led by Fâtih (Conqueror) Sultan Mehmed.
  3. 2071, when the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Matnzikert will celebrate 1000 years of continuing Turkish presence in Minor Asia.

Against this backdrop, Erdogan’s hint at retirement and the passing of “trust” to a new heir is perhaps best contextualised as a reminder to the Turkish nation and electorate of the burden of his unfinished vision and continuity in grand strategic aspirations that extend well beyond his temporal lifespan.

A victory for Erdogan’s Justice and Development (AKP) Party in the March 31 local elections could potentially incentivise the President to seize the opportunity for new constitutional reforms, following up on those of 2017, which ended “the system of parliamentary government that characterized the Turkish republic from its founding, replacing it with an executive presidency system.”

Hence, given that opportunities for further extending his time at the country’s helm exist, the possibility of Erdogan seeking power beyond the end of his constitutional mandate in 2028 is still nominally present. 

Notably, Erdogan’s ally and leader of the ultranationalist far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has lamented over the President’s retirement comment: 

Konstantinos K
Konstantinos K
Konstantinos is postgraduate student, researcher and founder of Polity21. He writes primarily on Greek-Turkish relations, conflict and power politics in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Academic and journalistic interests also include among others Astropolitics, Remote Warfare and U.S. Grand Strategy.
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