February 5, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

The Economist: Turkey could be ‘on the verge of dictatorship’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or rather his shadow, made the cover of the Economist this week in an unflattering fashion, as a leader who brought his country “to the brink of disaster.”

As the introduction to the financial newspaper’s report on the state of the country ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections states, “Mr. Erdogan’s behavior as the election approaches could push what is today a deeply flawed democracy towards full-blown dictatorship.”

The Economist says that Erdogan’s 20-year rule was initially beneficial to Turkey: he put the economy in order, neutralized the generals interfering in power, and in 2005 achieved the official start of negotiations on joining the EUwhile advancing its Islamist agenda, which alarmed the long-dominated secular heirs of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

But, as the newspaper notes, “the longer Erdogan is in power, the more authoritarian he becomes.” Moving from prime minister to president, he turned this largely ceremonial post into a truly powerful one in the service of the autocracy. “As he approaches his third decade in power, he sits in a vast palace and orders courtiers who are too scared to tell him when he is wrong. His increasingly eccentric beliefs are rapidly becoming public knowledge.

Erdogan once compared democracy to a tram ride: when you get to your destination, you get off. His interpretation of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, whom the Economist calls “the most likely contender” for the presidency, is revealing. A two-year prison sentence and a political ban for calling the officials who annulled his first election “idiots” brought him out Imamoglu out of the presidential race if the conviction is not vacated or vacated, and called into question the integrity of the election, says The Economist.

At the international level, Erdogan could create problems for Greece and Cyprus by “igniting more bitter territorial disputes. He could “create further confusion and strife in Syria.” He could “allow 5 million migrants and refugees in Turkey to travel to southern Europe.” And he could continue to block the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO.

However, argues The Economist, Erdogan cannot afford a complete break with the West because he needs investment and weapons. But, as the article argues, it is time for the Western powers to take a firmer stand, starting with the US. “Mr Erdogan is a bully who sees timidity as a reason to use his advantage, and toughness as an incentive to build relationships,” writes The Economist.

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