Two excellent articles on Turkey’s future
Source:European Council on Foreign Relations Date:04Jun2019
We’ve been wondering for a long time whether Turkey is capable of change. Two recent articles shed light on the question.
The first is by Council on Foreign Relations:
Whatever happens in the election, Turkey has entered a new period. Erdogan’s rule is no longer uncontested, while both Davutoglu and Gül plan to spearhead political parties that will challenge his one-man regime. And Imamoglu, who may well become the secular rival of Turkey’s strongman in the next presidential elections, is on the rise. If, on top of that, the Istanbul government changes hands – with the opposition gaining control of the municipality’s $9.5 billion budget and its subsidiary companies – Turkey’s political trajectory could change.
But, then again, Erdogan has long been a pragmatist and a master of flexible coalitions. To reverse his declining fortunes, he could distance himself from his ultranationalist allies, attempt a pivot to Europe, or try to reopen long-delayed talks with imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan – in the hope that a kinder, gentler image will appeal to some Kurdish voters. The government has already allowed lawyers to visit Ocalan for the first time since 2011, and there are reports that the Turkish security services are talking to the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria.
If there is little reason to credit Turkish leaders (for a pseudo-democracy), the millions of Turkish citizens are different. At critical moments, they have infused Turkey’s pseudo-democratic institutions with meaning, defying the military’s call to maintain a ban on politicians in the mid-1980s and defying the officers again in 2007 when the General Staff tried to block Abdullah Gul from becoming Turkey’s president. Many Turks countenanced the electoral chicanery of the AKP since 2014 because the party delivered prosperity and the unfortunate state of the opposition combined with the government’s coercion left them with little choice.
Yet the institutional manipulation in order to nullify the Istanbul election may have gone too far. The AKP candidate is now the odds-on favorite to win. Erdogan would not go to the trouble of overturning the election only to lose again. But it does not seem that Istanbul’s people are going down without a fight. The rerun election is likely a lost cause. But maybe, just maybe, it can be the prelude to the birth of a true Turkish democracy.