In a move that hints at a significant economic shift for Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced sweeping changes to his cabinet, including the revamping of his financial team and the replacement of a hardline interior minister. These changes come shortly after Erdoğan’s victory in a closely contested election, highlighting the impact of Turkey’s deepening economic challenges on his popularity.
During a speech on Saturday, President Erdoğan reshuffled key departments, introducing new ministers for finance, foreign affairs, and interior. With only two ministers from the previous cabinet retaining their positions, these changes are seen as an attempt to regain control of Istanbul and Ankara—Turkey’s two largest cities—in next year’s municipal elections.
Erdoğan’s remarks during his inauguration speech alluded to a new era of Turkish growth, coinciding with the approaching centenary celebrations of the Turkish republic. The appointment of Mehmet Şimşek, a former deputy prime minister and finance minister with a strong reputation among investors, as the new finance and treasury chief, indicates a potential shift away from the unorthodox economic policies blamed for the lira’s record lows and soaring inflation.
The selection of Cevdet Yilmaz, who has held prominent economic positions in the Turkish government and parliament, as vice-president, further suggests a policy realignment. However, experts caution that cabinet changes alone may not be sufficient to address the country’s economic challenges.
A key change in the cabinet reshuffle is the replacement of Süleyman Soylu, known for his confrontational rhetoric against the West, as interior minister. Soylu’s successor, Ali Yerlikaya, the governor of Istanbul province, is expected to bring a different approach to the role. Soylu’s divisive and anti-Western stance had strained relations with many foreign counterparts.
In the realm of foreign policy, Erdoğan also replaced his long-serving foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s national security chief. Fidan assumes the position at a time when NATO allies are pressuring Turkey to allow Sweden’s accession to the alliance, a move Ankara has resisted until Sweden takes stronger action against terrorism.
Commenting on the cabinet changes, analysts note that Erdoğan’s decisions indicate a slightly more moderate stance, with a technocratic inclination compared to the previous leadership. However, the long-term effects of these shifts on Turkey’s economy and international relations remain to be seen.
As Turkey approaches its centenary, President Erdoğan’s cabinet reshuffle signifies a potential shift toward orthodox economic policies and a recalibration of the country’s foreign and interior ministries. While these changes are seen as a response to growing economic challenges and upcoming elections, their ultimate impact on Turkey’s trajectory will require comprehensive and sustained efforts.