Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled he plans to run for office again in 2023, but that this will be the last time.
“Inshallah, in 2023, with the power of support I ask from you for the last time, we will start the construction of the Turkish Century and handover this blessed flag to our youth,” Erdogan told supporters at a rally in the Black Sea port of Samsun.
Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) are seeking to hold onto power in parliamentary and presidential elections next year. Erdogan has ruled for nearly 20 years, being elected first as prime minister in 2003 and then as president in 2014. Turkey’s political system was redefined in 2017 with a constitutional amendment creating a strong presidency and doing away with the premiership. Erdogan was elected to the new role in 2018. According to the constitution, he is allowed to run twice for the position.
Economic troubles, including soaring inflation and the collapse in the value of the Turkish lira, have caused the Turkish leader to take a beating in recent opinion polls.
Erdogan has spoken out against raising interest rates, which he believes causes inflation — the exact opposite of conventional economic thinking — leading to some charges of mismanagement by experts.
Erdogan touted his government’s achievements at the rally and vowed that he would defeat the AKP’s main rivals, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), in next year’s vote.
Merhum Cemal Safi’nin diliyle “bahri siyahım, şehirler şahım” Samsun…
Teşekkürler Samsun… ???????? pic.twitter.com/bXI7T24dxh
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) December 10, 2022
“We have established a service infrastructure that even developed countries envy,” he said. “Now, they say Turkey is a really different country. Every global crisis is conducive to a better understanding of our country’s power.”
Erdogan has also sought to lean on Israel to reduce his country’s growing political and economic isolation ahead of the elections, initiating a process of détente with Jerusalem following a decade of frosty ties.
Israel was a long-time regional ally of Turkey, but ties deteriorated starting in 2010, with Erdogan increasingly attacking the Jewish state over its policies toward Palestinians.
Both countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018 after Erdogan leveled charges of “state terrorism” and “genocide” at Israel, when dozens of Palestinians were killed in Gaza rioting in May 2018 following the US Embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem.
Amid diplomatic signals this year indicating Erdogan was seeking to reestablish full ties with Israel, President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara on an official trip in March and was welcomed in the capital by a full military procession.
Turkey and Israel announced the full restoration of relations in August, including the reinstallation of ambassadors.
Agencies and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.