Is It the Beginning of Erdogan’s End?
Al-Jazeera, Qatar, April 5
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a massive political beating this week, after his party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), lost the vote in Istanbul, Ankara and several other Turkish cities. This loss carries significant repercussions not only for Erdogan’s political future, but for the entire set of policies he has promoted – namely, the effort to use Islam as a justification for the oppression of anyone who disagrees with him. The loss of major Turkish cities in the election is of particular concern to Erdogan since these are the stronghold of Turkish elites and intelligentsia. Furthermore, the opposition’s victory in these cities gave Erdogan’s political opponents renewed confidence in themselves and their ability to oust the president. Many pundits believe that this election is a watershed moment in Turkish politics, marking the beginning of Erdogan’s end. Following this defeat, Erdogan’s party is expected to face significant challenges. As one specialist explains, many AKP members see Erdogan as exaggerating and overstepping the boundaries of objectivity and rationality. His extreme actions resulted in significant harm to the Turkish economy, including the creation of sharp inflation amounting to more than 20 percent annually, and a high unemployment rate, standing at 19%. The Turkish lira lost two thirds of its value compared to the US dollar. These are several reasons the Turkish people took to the ballots and voted against Erdogan. Erdogan acknowledged the economy’s dire situation and promised to fix it. However, the political battles he has waged on behalf of his country are multifaceted, complicated and time-consuming. He will also need to restore the confidence he lost due to his reckless and foolish behavior. There have also been growing complaints in Turkey about Erdogan’s corruption, especially as his son Bilal recently came under investigation in Italy for widespread money laundering. All of these developments pose grave political challenges for Erdogan. Even for an invincible president, this setback might be one too much to recover from. – Muhammad al-Sheikh