To the surprise of almost no one, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan formalized his bid for the presidency on Tuesday, with his ruling Justice and Development Party announcing that he would be its candidate.
Erdogan, 60, would hit a term limit as prime minister next year, so he had been expected to seek the presidency and to take what steps he can to enhance the powers of what is largely a figurehead post. The current president, party cohort Abdullah Gul, said over the weekend that he would not run for a second term.
The prime minister's track record in more than a decade of leadership is a mixed one. In his early years, Erdogan presided over strong economic growth and was held up as proof that democracy and a moderately Islamist worldview were not incompatible.
Once aspiring to a role as regional conciliator, Turkey has lately quarreled with neighbors, alienating Egypt with outspoken support of its ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, allowing passage to rebels heading to Syria to fight the regime of President Bashar Assad and backing away from a role as Israel’s closest strategic partner in the Muslim world.