Erdogan confirms Turkey’s descent into autocracy

Monday 16th July 2018 | Jake

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the incumbent Turkish President, will remain in office for five more years following his party’s election win on the 25th June, with the AKP amassing 52.24% of the votes. There was almost 90% voter turnout according to the state broadcaster, with the AKP’s closest rival, the CHP, managing a 30.68% share.

The result means Erdogan extends his 15-year reign as Turkey’s authoritative leader, and he will view the result as sufficient mandate to push through reforms tightening his grip on the country. Opposition parties have vowed to contend the result, livid at a perceived media bias and Erdogan’s penchant for locking up rivals.

In the run up to the vote Turkey’s media – with dissenting publications gagged and many of their writers locked away – were overwhelmingly obsequious in their reportage of Erdogan, while remaining muted on opponents’ campaigns. Under the autocrat Turkey’s free press has suffered dearly, with charges of sedition held against publications deemed anti-Erdogan or pro-Kurdish. Court fees and fines have debilitated many newspapers, with many being forced to close for good.

Last year’s reforms mean Erdogan will assume complete control of the cabinet, also allowing him to freely appoint senior judges and officials. The reforms gift Erdogan the ability to mould Turkey’s political landscape profoundly, with far-reaching consequences that will be felt long into the future. Opposition parties vowed to abolish the reforms, however, Erdogan’s victory means they will inevitably be taken advantage of.

The descent towards autocracy sped up markedly in 2016 when a failed coup attempt saw the paranoid Erdogan crackdown on anyone suspected of being involved or supporting the coup. Teachers, soldiers, academics, students, police, bureaucrats and even judges have not escaped his vengeful wrath.

After the results were in Erdogan addressed supporters in Ankara, stating Turkey was “an example for the rest of the world.” He’s right. Just not in the way he believes.