Whilst the UK’s on-recess politicians bask in the bank holiday sunshine, there is plenty of note going on elsewhere- namely Turkey’s election result that sees divisive President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan re-elected for another five years in office.
This will be Erdoğan’s ELEVENTH straight election victory- he has previously been elected the Mayor of Istanbul & as the now-dissolved role of Prime minister, before becoming President in 2014. Such a record surely puts him in election GOAT territory, so what’s his secret?
The now 69 year-old has varied his approach in the three decades he has been around the top of Turkish politics, adopting a more worryingly authoritarian approach as time has gone on. This most recent victory has been his toughest yet, as his opposition was made up of a number of Turkey’s smaller parties, in an effort to bring an end to the populist leaders’ lengthy time at the top.
21 year-old student Cem Gurbuz has dual Turkish heritage and for him, Erdoğan has been around in Turkish politics for as long as he can remember:
“My immediate feelings about the result are not brilliant, to be honest. I don’t think you can have anyone in power for as long as he has been in power.”
“I’ve got family there and I go quite a lot- the biggest thing that we see is that the power of the economy relative to others economies is just declining largely. When I was a kid, 1 pound was equal to 2,4,6 Lira, and now it’s over 20, and it’s getting worse for my family to afford living there.”
“There’s a lot of support outside for him outside of Turkey. The people I know in England, they support Erdoğan more than inside Turkey, I don’t know anyone from inside Turkey that does support him, none of my family do.”
Cem voted in the election from afar in England, where there are only two place for Turkish nationals to vote- London and Manchester. As for Erdoğan’s consistency, the President doesn’t have him convinced:
“I couldn’t tell you what makes him so electable, I can’t see it. Its like asking what makes Boris Johnson electable.”
“He doesn’t explain things. I see what they say about the economy and it doesn’t make sense. I remember my lecturers teaching us about inflation rates and interest rates, and the traditional way that everyone does it in the world, and then they told us what the Turkish economic ministers were doing- the complete opposite.”
“They explain these things in terms that don’t really make any sense, and that’s probably what people find electable about him, he just says everything’s going to be okay, I guess he says what people want to hear. But when it comes to delivering it, when it comes responding to the earthquake, when it comes to actually controlling the economy, it doesn’t really happen.”
Erdoğan’s time in power has never been dull- he was arrested in 1997 after a poem he read risked inciting religious violence, to which he responded by dropping a number 1 poetry album which sold over a million copies. In a truly Orwellian action, he promised he would donate all of the album’s proceeds to the families of ‘criminals of thought’, meaning anyone who expresses ‘politically unacceptable thoughts’.
The perennial president and many of his supporters see this result as a victory over the ‘Western media’. As an esteemed UK media outlet ourselves, I guess Punching Up has to hold this L?
In one of Erdoğan’s many victory speeches, he reiterated one of his more regressive buzz lines, saying that “LGBT cannot infiltrate among us. The family is sacred.” You forgot the Q+ Recep.
Of course, these kinds of statements only harm the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights around the world, and as one of the most recognisable figures, particularly in the middle eastern world, it is worrying to see he is fearful that LGBTQ+ people are ‘infiltrating’ his country like some kind of sequined secret service.
Erdoğan remains buddies with Vladimir Putin whilst also being part of NATO, a powerful position which has the likes of Biden and Sunak sweating. Whether he sways towards a Russian alliance or relieves some of the tension in his NATO relationship in his newest tenure will be a significant story in world politics in the coming years, but for now Turkey’s ever present leader keeps on singing.
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