Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could not afford to lose this election, so all the possible means were used: unfair campaign, state of emergency, intimidation, and probably some plain ballot stuffing and biased counting. So said Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador and head of the delegation to Turkey between 2006 and 2011.

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Pierini stressed that Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) networks throughout the country did their job – even if, by Western standards, this was an unfair competition.

“We are witnessing what some have called the “Reis [Chief] syndrome”, the perception that because Turkey is split between very diverse segments it needs a strong man at the helm, whatever the price is,” said Pierini. “Over the past 15 and a half years, Erdogan has managed to embody this perception. Although a one-man-rule system of governance is shocking for most Europeans, it probably is not to half the Turkish population.”

According to Pierini, Turkey now is an autocracy, whose governance system is entirely divorced from Western or European standards. There is no independent judiciary, no free press, no free civil society.

Asked about Turkey’s chances of ever joining the European Union, the former ambassador said there is none. “Chances of accession are zero, this prospect is now out of the way. And Ankara is by definition not going to move closer to EU standards. It cannot and has no intention of doing so. And the EU will not give a ‘discount’ to Turkey on its democratic standards.”