Marc Champion: Turkey’s Erdogan Is Down, But Don’t Count Him Out

Source:Bloomberg Date:06Apr2024

First, like municipal elections everywhere, those in Turkey are not always reliable indicators of how people would vote for a central executive. Second, there are no national elections scheduled until 2028, giving Erdogan time to recover from his mistake on the economy. Indeed, he secured re-election only last year by continuing to pump enough money into the system to soften the impact of runaway inflation. Turks have been paying the full price of this ideologically driven folly only since he secured another term, when he switched to a more orthodox monetary and fiscal policy team.

In other words, Erdogan knew that some kind of political reckoning was coming and he planned for it. Foreign investors have begun to return, and Erdogan can — as he has said — expect for the harsh medicine of fiscal tightening to bear results and enable a rebound well before the next elections. It isn’t impossible that he might be forced to call an early vote, but it’s hard now to foresee how that might happen. As the president put it in his speech accepting defeat: “We will stand tall, we will stand upright. March 31 is not the end for us, it is actually a turning point.”

This weekend’s result could conceivably see Erdogan shift toward moderation, but that seems like wishful thinking. For one thing, the share of votes won by Turkey’s large Kurdish minority was again large enough to secure an influential block of legislators hostile to the president in a parliamentary election, which may not bode well for their treatment. Erdogan may respond by targeting ethnic Kurds to court votes from Turkish nationalists.