Erdogan’s era lives on. This is reassuring on Sunday following longtime Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged victorious in a presidential runoff against opposition rival Kemal Kılıcdaroglu.
That Erdogan has managed to survive the greatest test of his leadership is outstanding provided the state of the Turkish economy and lingering public anger more than the government’s response to the strong earthquakes in February that killed at least 50,000 folks. What his victory signifies for the future of Turkey, as effectively as the complete globe, is the query on lots of minds now.
For Turkey, Erdogan’s third and final term will imply “a continuation of currently,” says Galip Daley, a fellow at London-primarily based consider tank Chatham Residence. Below Erdogan, who very first came to energy as Turkey’s prime minister in 2003 (a function he served for 11 years just before becoming president in 2014), the nation has slipped back into authoritarianism. He consolidated energy via constitutional modifications, eroded the country’s democratic institutions, which includes the judiciary and media, and jailed opponents and critics, lots of of them journalists. His efforts earned Turkey the designation of a single of the prime ten autocratizing nations in the globe, according to the Swedish institute V-Dem. In 2018, Freedom Residence downgraded the country’s status from “partly cost-free” to “not cost-free”.
With the subsequent 5 years at the helm, it is unlikely that Erdogan will make a decision to modify course on his domestic front. If something, it will most likely go even additional. “When autocrats face an unstable domestic context, they double down on repression,” says Gonul Tol, author of the book Erdogan’s war: Powerful fight at residence and in Syria. Although Erdogan could probably bow to stress to return to additional orthodox financial policies to restore economic stability to the nation (a move he appeared to foreshadow by which includes his former financial czar Mehmet Simsek at a campaign occasion), Tol says it is unlikely that Erdogan will relent when it comes to restoring the country’s democratic credibility. “We have come to a point [where] he has undermined rights and institutions to the point that we can no longer get in touch with Turkey a democracy,” she says, noting the verdict of international election observers that Turkey’s elections, though apparently cost-free and competitive, are nonetheless unfair. “We are reaching a point exactly where Turkey will turn into a nation exactly where elections might not matter.”
The repercussions of Erdogan’s victory will not be restricted to Turkey. This will have significant international consequences — not only for NATO. In contrast to other members of the alliance, Turkey has created an work to establish close ties with Russia. In 2017, Ankara controversially agreed to invest in the S-400 missile defense program from Moscow. Although most other nations sanctioned Russia following its all-out invasion of Ukraine, Turkey continued to do business enterprise with Moscow. In a current interview with CNN, Erdogan touted his “unique connection” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and confirmed Turkey’s sole opposition to Sweden’s entry into NATO. (Ankara previously blocked Finland and Sweden from joining the military alliance, citing issues about their assistance for Kurdish militants regarded terrorist organizations by Turkey and the US though it ultimately lifted its opposition to Finland, which has given that turn into NATO’s 31st member, his veto on Stockholm Accession stands.)
More than the subsequent 5 years, “you happen to be going to see a strengthening of that.” [Erdoğan-Putin] connection additional,” says Tol. “He utilized the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO as a trump card to extract concessions from the Western globe.” And he has in lots of methods, so he will attempt to milk it even additional.”
Nevertheless, most analysts count on Erdogan to ultimately agree to Sweden’s membership — if not just before the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius in July, then maybe by the finish of the year. “Erdogan appreciates Turkey’s presence in NATO since he thinks it provides him more leverage in international affairs,” Daley says. Certainly, Erdogan has sought to portray Turkey as a important diplomatic broker in between Russia and the West, and has insisted on convening peace talks in between Russia and Ukraine, just as he helped broker a important grain export deal in between the warring nations final year.
Erdogan’s victory could also have decisive consequences for the estimated three.six million Syrian refugees in Turkey. Though Erdogan did not go as far as Kilicaroglu by promising to expel all refugees from the nation — a move he created following the very first round of voting, in an apparent try to split his rival’s assistance amongst nationalists — Erdogan noted that his government’s plans to construct hundreds of thousands residences in northern Syria would facilitate their voluntary return.
As considerably will rely on how Erdogan chooses to define his final term—and, by extension, his legacy—much will also rely on how the globe chooses to respond to his victory, particularly the West. In the international battle in between democracy and authoritarianism, Turkey is regarded firmly in the camp of the latter, along with other backward nations Hungary, India and Brazil.
“Is the West prepared to stand up to a additional authoritarian Turkey?” Gonul asks. “Or will they sustain this transactional connection and say, ‘As lengthy as Erdogan keeps Syrian refugees in Turkey, we can perform with him, we can tolerate him.’
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