Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the incumbent President of Turkey, a visionary leader, and modern Turkey’s longest-serving ruler. He was born in Istanbul on February 26, 1954, and got his early education from Kasımpaşa Piyale Primary School. Afterwards, he joined Imam Hatip School Istanbul in 1973. Although Erdogan had a keen interest in social and political issues since high school and became the Head of Youth Branch of an Islamist National Salvation party after he graduated from Marmara University’s in Economics and Administrative Sciences, he formally stepped into the political arena. In 1983, Recep Tayyib Erdogan joined a newly established Welfare Party and the next year he was elected the Beyoglu District Head of the Welfare Party. In 1985, he was elected as the Istanbul Provincial Head of the Welfare Party and a member of the Central Executive Board of the party. It is pertinent to mention that being the Party Head of Istanbul Province, he developed a new organizational structure, which later served as a model for other political parties. He initiated many projects that aimed at urging the participation of women and youth in politics. Due to his struggle and performance, the Welfare Party achieved great success during the mayoral elections held in 1989. Erdogan was elected the Mayor of Metropolitan Istanbul after local elections held on March 27, 1994. Being a Mayor, he came out with a pragmatic approach to deal with the chronic issues of Istanbul, such as laying hundreds of kilometres of new pipeline for solving the water crisis, building bridges, freeways and passageways to deal with the issue of traffic congestion and transportation deadlock. It is worthy to mention that Erdogan accomplished a breakthrough in municipal history and became an example to emulate by his successors.
A breakaway group of the Virtue Party, which was shut down by the courts in 2001, resulted in the formation of Erdogan’s AK Party. In 2007, his party won the parliamentary elections. In 2011, Erdogan’s party won 327 seats in the parliament and Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the Prime Minister of Turkey. Later in 2014, he was elected as the President before seeking another term in office with more expanded powers.
The major setback in his political career emerged in June 2015 elections when his party managed to win most of the votes but unfortunately lost its overall majority for the first time. Instead of developing a coalition, he called new elections in November 2015 resulted in a major success by his party to restore its position.
In April 2017, Erdogan decided to go for a referendum on a new constitution mainly focusing on abolishing the office of Prime Minister though it was a comparatively narrow win. General elections in Turkey held on 24 June 2018, marking the country’s transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.
From his modest beginning, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has grown into a political prodigy over the period. He reshaped Turkey more than any leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. His achievement is evident from the fact that when he became PM in 2003, the lira (Turkish currency) rate was 1.6 to the US dollar and now it is 0.13 USD. His early years in power are a spectacle of development and expansion. Due to his great achievements, Erdogan and his political party Turkey has witnessed an average growth rate of 7.5 percent between 2002 and 2011. On the other hand, due to falling inflation and interest rates, domestic consumption further boosted in the same tenure. The first period of the AKP’s rule gave Turkey 10 years of social peace, political constancy, improving the livelihood of people, stronger democracy, and the rule of law.
In short, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has changed the political face of Turkey, with significant results to show for it, certainly a flourishing domestic economy and improved international prestige. Indeed, he is a man of his words and voice of voiceless.