Actually, Erdoğan is not allowed to run for the presidency again in 2023 – but the Turkish president wants to run anyway with a clever trick. In an interview with FOCUS online, Turkey expert Udo Steinbach explains what measures Erdoğan could take to remain in power.

The 2023 election year could become a turning point in Turkey. Either Erdoğan’s 20-year rule will end and democracy will be given a real chance in Turkey, or he will regain approval for his autocratic system – with devastating consequences for his country and Europe.

But it won’t be easy for Erdoğan: According to the constitution, a president can only be elected twice in a row. In order to prevent this, the controversial autocrat must come up with something.

But what measures will Erdoğan take to stay in power?

Just recently, Erdoğan declared at a rally that he was once again asking the citizens for their support – even though this is not possible according to the constitution. Udo Steinbach, an Islamic scholar and former director of the German Orient Institute, is also convinced that controversial methods are right for him. “He’ll definitely try, that’s a done deal, and all his political actions are currently aimed at winning the election.”

The Turkish President is actually only allowed to stand in office twice, which is why Erdoğan had to come up with something: Erdoğan claims that his first term in office was not quite complete and that he is therefore allowed to stand again, according to Steinbach. Because at the beginning of the AKP’s reign, Erdoğan was banned from politics for incitement to hatred – so he was only able to enter parliament three months later in a by-election.

Normally, the historic election is due again in June 2023, but Erdoğan’s AKP wants to bring it forward. According to press reports, the ruling party intends to set April 30 as election day, with the presidential run-off election taking place on May 14. But what would early elections bring him? The Turkey expert explains: “The later the election takes place, the greater the risk for Erdoğan.” After all, the country is in a deep economic crisis, in which Erdoğan is not entirely uninvolved.

And domestically he is also facing strong headwinds and, according to Steinbach, the foreign policy circumstances are just as questionable. A tough election campaign is therefore in store for him: by bringing the date forward, he wants to minimize the imponderables, says Steinbach.

But in order to bring the elections forward, the governing party also needs the votes of the opposition in parliament – it is still uncertain whether they will agree. In addition, the popularity of the opposition parties is increasing, reports Steinbach.

If things went quite normally, the opposition coalition would likely win, Steinbach said. So Erdoğan would only have two solutions: “Either he puts the candidates in prison or he finds something that the opposition cannot say no to,” said Steinbach.

Because Erdoğan is also aware of the competition, which is why he will try by all means to stay in power, believes the Turkey expert. The verdict against the mayor of Istanbul shows what steps Erdoğan is determined to take domestically: Ekrem Imamoglu is said to have insulted Turkish officials, which is why he was sentenced to more than two years in prison followed by a ban on politics.

In this regard, experts are more of the opinion that Erdoğan supposedly wants to sideline a competitor before next year’s election.

The Turkey expert also believes that Erdoğan will also act in foreign policy: He could instigate a new military operation against the Kurds in Syria – because the Turkish President has had domestic success with this several times in the past. In this way he could position himself as “a defender of Turkey against Kurdish terrorism, which is supported by the Syrian side,” explains Steinbach.

In addition, Greece could also become Erdoğan’s target: after all, he openly threatened to intervene. “Nobody is taking it seriously at the moment, but the man is determined to win the election.” With campaigns of this kind against the Kurds or Greeks, he could therefore score points domestically and at the same time eliminate the opposition, according to the expert.

And what would be the impact of another Erdoğan victory on the EU? Especially in the area of ​​migration, Turkey plays an important key role due to its location. If Erdoğan were to win again, the EU’s hands would be tied: “The EU believes it can do little to stand in Erdoğan’s way. The credibility of the European Union would possibly decrease if he won the election again,” said Steinbach.

Especially if there were attacks on the Kurds in Syria or Greece, it would cast a big shadow over European value-oriented foreign policy: “This would then remain on the garbage heap of history,” said Steinbach.