The crucial election in Turkey could spell the end of the Erdogan era, according to Forbes: “We the people, who are you?  asks the Islamist leader

The crucial election in Turkey could spell the end of the Erdogan era, according to Forbes: “We the people, who are you? asks the Islamist leader

Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a visit to the TEKNOFEST Aviation, Space and Technology Festival, held at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. Photo via Turkish Presidency

The American magazine Forbes publishes article by Mike O’Sullivan on the importance of Turkey’s upcoming elections inside and outside the country and the tactics Tayyip Erdogan is likely to use to maintain his power.

Nestled in Jan Werner Mueller’s book on populism is a quote from Erdogan: “We are the people, who are you?

It is a powerful and defiant statement from a politician who has become the embodiment of Turkey – first beguiling its people with progress, development and national achievement, then conquering the state and stripping its institutions.

As a result of his actions and values, the Turkish economy collapsed and inflation reached almost 100%.

Erdogan will become a central figure in the coming weeks, as the Turkish presidential election is important internationally for several reasons. The elections are a crucial step for Turkey.

An Erdogan victory will damage democracy and forever invalidate Kemal Ataturk’s model that Turkey should strive to be secular, democratic and Western-leaning.

More broadly, Erdogan is a test case of the “authoritarian recession” theory, while other populists like Bolsonaro and Donald Trump have gone off the rails.

A changing of the guard in Turkey would mean that one of the oldest populists has now been pushed aside and democracy will breathe again in Turkey.

But also from a geopolitical point of view, the elections in Turkey are very important. There was a time when Turkey was admired as a role model and a force for stability in the Middle East (especially in the wake of the Arab Spring) and its foreign policy motto at the time was “zero trouble with neighbours”.

But now Turkey is in conflict at every point on the map, embroiled in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, militarily active in Libya and Syria, in conflict with Israel, the most dangerous member of the NATO alliance and a faithful friend of Russia. In other words, there is a lot at stake in elections.

Erdogan’s opponent is veteran politician Kemal Kilicdaroglu – who has been the leader of the Republican People’s Party since 2010.

An economist and former civil servant, he is generally seen as a soft-spoken personality, although in recent weeks he has led protests outside cabinets. These are due to the political consequences of the earthquakes in Turkey which caused the death of 50,000 people.

Unlike the deadly train derailment in Greece, the deaths from the earthquake in Turkey are recognized as being the consequences of corruption – either through poor building engineering or the failure of Turkish institutions to provide assistance to people affected.

Turkey is a prime example of the negative effects on the bond and money markets of weakening institutions – the Erdogan family and their cronies, for example, controlled the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Turkey.

Since the early 2000s, when Kemal Dervis fixed the banking system and the prospect of EU membership was in sight, Turkey had made great strides. But in recent years this has come to a halt, as policymaking, the quality of institutions and the rule of law have deteriorated.

Erdogan’s latest election maneuver is to call in sick and cancel campaign events, in a move some insiders see as an attempt to secure a sympathy vote.

The columnist’s opinion is that if in the first round the margin is narrow, then Erdogan will become a complete populist and emulate Trump – citing military conspiracy, outside powers and possibly fraud.

The fate of the mayor of Istanbul, imprisoned for speaking out against the Erdogan government, shows how far the latter is prepared to go to preserve his power, concludes the columnist.

SOURCE: US Forbes Magazine, Mike O’Sullivan – Turkey’s crucial election could spell the end of the Erdogan era

Here’s the truth: Not every change of baton in Turkey will lead to a radical change in its foreign policy, Economist warns


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