Swedish journalist and Turkey analyst Bitte Hammargren has said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan might end up in court on corruption charges if he fails to win the presidential election in May.
Speaking to the Free Turkish Press, Hammargren said, “For any political leader, losing an election is traumatic, but for an autocrat even more so.”
Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on May 14.
President Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Homeland Party leader Muharrem İnce and Sinan Oğan, the candidate of a bloc of four far-right parties, are the four candidates who have qualified to run in the presidential election.
Hammargren recently published a book in Sweden titled “Drama Utan Slut: Turkiet 100 år” (Never-Ending Drama: Turkey at 100), with photographs by Stefan Bladh.
“As Turkey is heading for another pivotal moment, the May 14 elections, we felt that time was due to summarize what we have experienced,” she said. “The result is our book.”
In the event of Kılıçdaroğlu’s victory in the election, Turkey stands a chance to dismantle the authoritarian presidential system and restore the integrity of the courts and other institutions, she said, adding that there are many questions left, even if the opposition wins.
According to Hammargren, the Turkish president’s alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and his embrace of Turkish nationalism give flashbacks to the dark years of the 1990s, when eighth president Turgut Özal’s peace process with the Kurds broke down.
“He [Erdoğan] certainly is a strongman, but he is also merciless in the way he silences anyone who dares to challenge him via his remote control of the judiciary,” she said.
One of President Erdoğan’s goals ahead of the country’s centenary is to overshadow Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the republic, according to Hammargren.