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Erdogan, once again – Jewish exponent

Erdogan, once again – Jewish exponent


In the run-up to last week’s highly anticipated presidential elections in Turkey, media reports have focused on the prospect that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had an iron grip on leadership for two decades and his style of governance over more autocratic could be replaced.

Reports have highlighted the popularity of the candidacy of a kinder, softer leader named Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has promised to strengthen the country’s democracy, stabilize its economy, reduce tensions with foreign allies and return to a consensual leadership rather than the centralized decision-making favored by Erdogan. .

The May 15 election results did not match the hype. Erdogan won 49.5% of the vote, Kilicdaroglu 44.9% and a third candidate, Sinan Ogan, 5.2%. Since no candidate has crossed the 50% threshold needed to win, a runoff between the top two voters is scheduled for May 28. And because right-wing Ogans supporters are likely to vote for Erdogan in the second round, Erdogan is expected to win by nearly one
double-digit margin.

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Erdogan has a long history of political success. He first gained national prominence as mayor of Istanbul, the country’s most populous city, and used that post as a stepping stone to becoming prime minister and then president.

In the years since, he has become a deeply polarizing figure who has been accused of diluting democracy by using repressive tactics against civil society and the media while concentrating power in his presidency. Critics worry about the poor state of Turkey’s economy, marked by high inflation, as well as the weak response of governments to the devastating earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria. Supporters say Erdogan modernized the country through massive infrastructure projects and brought Islam back into public life in Turkey.

And then there is the sometimes confusing and fluid foreign policy component of Erdogan’s rule. Through NATO and other historical relationships, Turkey has allied itself with the West. But there are holes in this alliance. While Erdogan condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sent aid to the Ukrainian government, he refused to join Western sanctions against Russia and instead expanded trade ties with Russia and approached Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan has also sparred with the United States over Syria policy and regularly disparages Washington in his public speeches. And despite Turkey being a NATO member state, Erdogan has used his NATO blackball vote to hamper the expansion of alliances by delaying Finland’s ability to join and refusing to accept Sweden.

Kilicdaroglu promised to improve relations with the West and to make Turkish foreign policy less personal. It is unlikely that this whiff of new perspective will occur. Instead, Erdogan will stay in power. It will further tighten its control in Turkey as it sows uncertainty in the West and further cultivates its associations with other authoritarian regimes.

What this means for what appears to be improving Turkish-Israeli relations is unclear, as the Jewish state will join other Western powers in the expectation of seeing Erdogan’s next steps after what is likely to be a significant re-election victory next week.




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