Explainer: Turkey presidential election 2014

Turkey’s presidential candidates - Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses an election rally
Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses an election rally Reuters/Stringer

Recep Tayyip Erdogan ends more than 10 years as prime minister with an impressive level of support, despite vocal opposition in some quarters. He clearly means to stay in politics and remain influential in Turkey's future.


Party: Justice and Development Party (AKP)
Age: 59

A former semi-professional footballer, Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998, winning a popular base that launched him into national politics.

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Initially a member of the fundamentalist Welfare Party, which was banned in 1998.

In 1999 he was jailed for 10 months, serving four, for incitement to religious hatred for reciting a poem declaring "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers...." at a rally two years earlier.

In 2001 he co-founded the AKP, an Islamic party that accepts democracy.

The party won 34 per cent of the vote in the 2002 election and formed the first single-party government since 1987.

A coalition of Islamists, right-wingers and provincial entrepreneurs, the AKP combines social conservatism with pro-business economic policies.

It has pushed for Turkey to be allowed to join the European Union and invested heavily in the country’s infrastructure.

Erdogan has raised Turkey’s foreign policy profile, falling out with Israel and aiding armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In 2007 the AKP was reelected with a higher vote.

In 2013 anti-government protests spread from Istanbul to other Turkish cities and allegations of corruption caused ministers to resign and implicated Erdogan’s family and associates.

If he wins the presidency Erdogan will have to resign from the AKP, probably leaving current president Abdullah Gul to take over the reins of the party and the premiership.

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