Turkey's Erdogan sworn in with new powers, appoints son-in-law as finance minister

Recep Tayyip Erdogan will cap his years-long drive to transform Turkey's government on Monday as he's sworn in as an executive president with vastly expanded powers. Under the new system, Erdogan receives more power, with the role of prime minister now abolished.

Hours after he was sworn in with sweeping new powers at a ceremony in the capital of Ankara late on Monday, Erdogan named Berat Albayrak as treasury and finance minister.

Erdogan said the executive presidency would put behind a "system that heavily cost our country through political, social and economic chaos".

After news emerged of the appointment of Mr Erdogan's son-in-law, the Turkish lira lost more than 3% of its value.

Describing the monumental change as a "new beginning", he vowed at a later ceremony at his vast Ankara presidential palace to be the president of all 81 million Turks.

Mr Erdogan has largely ruled by fiat since 2016, when he imposed a state of emergency on the country in response to a failed coup attempt against him.

"We are embarking on this road by using this opportunity as best we can for a strong parliament, strong government and strong Turkey", he said. The coup was led by military leaders who opposed Erdogan's push to make Turkey more Islamic and less secular. "We as Turkey, and the Turkish nation, are making a new start here in your presence".

"Most powers will be concentrated in his hands, there will no longer be a prime minister, and nearly none of the checks and balances of liberal democracies will be present".

Among the dignitaries present at the ceremony were Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

No major Western leader featured on a list of 50 presidents, prime ministers and other high-ranking guests. Erdoĝan has repeatedly clashed with strategic allies such as the USA and the European Union in recent years over the war in Syria, Turkey's accession to the EU, human rights abuses by Ankara, Europe's failure to support Turkey during the coup attempt, and rising Islamophobia in Europe. Erdogan is expected to announce his Cabinet on Monday evening. Those times have already arrived, with the economic boom he's presided over threatening to turn into a bust, and a crackdown on dissent gaining new momentum.

Inflation surged last month above 15 percent, its highest level in more than a decade, despite interest rate hikes of 500 basis points by the central bank since April.

The markets were keeping a close eye on the finance ministry, keen to see a steady hand at the helm in a fast-growing economy dogged by double-digit inflation and a widening current account deficit.

Scrapping the term would remove a shield that helps ensure the bank's independence from politicians, former central banker Ugur Gurses said.

Investors are anxious that, with the appointment of Albayrak and dismissal of some top finance ministers, there will be no-one left to temper Erdogan's economic views.

He won last month's election with 52.6 per cent of the vote, ushered in the executive presidency that ends parliamentary governance and boosts the powers of the formerly ceremonial presidency.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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