The power of Turkish President Erdogan was under threat due to the devastating earthquake

Yves is here. For readers who follow international affairs, the idea that the terrible earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria will further dampen Erdogan’s re-election prospects is hardly a new idea. The article focuses on what Erdogan can do to shore up his prospects, given that he has supported growth driven by the construction industry and very weak building standards over the past few years and thus faced voter anger.

Equally important is the question of what other countries will do to influence the election results in this pivotal government. Erdogan is not well liked by the US or NATO, formerly Hungary, for being too friendly towards Russia. If they hit Erdogan without being seen to hit Turkey as well, that’s an open question. Russia clearly has incentives to support Erdogan, but may be reluctant to do so much as to unjustifiably alienate the successor (unless the candidates are so pro-Western that they are incorrigible from Moscow’s point of view).

It’s no secret that foreigners can put their fingers on the dial:

Note The United States provided $100 millionmore aid than they gave Japan at Fukushima ($0), but they did spend a lot on deploying the military to provide immediate assistance. However, the US has a habit of not always keeping those promises.

Ahmet T. Kuru, professor of political science at San Diego State University. Originally posted on Talk

earthquake in Turkey in Feb. November 6, 2023 is, first of all, a human tragedy that claimed lives At least 45,000 people to date

The disaster also has serious consequences for the country’s economy – financial losses from damage valued at US$84 billion – and his politics.

It is difficult for me to analyze this human tragedy and its long-term consequences for Turkey. I Turkish political researcher. But I also grew up in the affected region and lost relatives and friends in the cities Antioch And Iskenderun. However, I consider it important to study the impact of the earthquake on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – not for reasons of political intrigue, but because it is critical to determine how Turkey will recover from the disaster and better prepare for the future.

President Erdogan absolves himself of guilt

Turkey will hold presidential and parliamentary elections. to be held in June 2023. Erdogan had Decline in popularity before the earthquakepartly due to the economic crisis and growing public concern about his authoritarian style of government, especially among young voters.

Erdogan did his best to mitigate any political fallout from the earthquake and absolve himself of any blame. His Justice and Development Party, the AKP, the media he controls, and the government agency that operates mosques called Diyanet were quick to define the earthquake as “catastrophe of the century“. It is implied that Erdogan could not have done anything to avoid loss of life.

Meanwhile, Erdogan himself damage inspection, declared that “one cannot be prepared for such a disaster.” He also called it “fate“.

Yet critics were not convinced. Analysts hold Erdogan’s highly centralized, one-man rule responsible for both the lack of Adequate preparation before an earthquake And failure to provide coordinated assistance after it.

Lack of preparation and coordination

To be sure, Erdogan’s track record leaves him vulnerable to accusations of the extent of the destruction.

For the past 20 years, Erdogan has given priority to construction. engine of economic growth. Initially, during his tenure, bureaucratic and non-governmental institutions tried to regulate the construction sector, keeping in mind devastating earthquake in 1999 in the northwest of the country which killed more than 17,000 people.

However, after the constitutional amendments of 2017, Erdogan established new presidential regime with almost no checks and balances. He devastated bureaucratic institutions, placed loyalists in key positions and enriched clan contractors. He did not impose required building codes. Instead, he announced an amnesty. Owners of millions of faulty buildings as part of a populist policy that also raised taxes. After the earthquake President’s bragging video everyone knew about this “amnesty”.

Erdogan’s administration has also faced accusations of being too slow and disorganized to coordinate rescue work after the earthquake.

Opposition parties and foreign observers alike hold the centralized system responsible for what is seen as Very inefficient response on the crucial first day after the earthquake. Critics have asked, for example, why Erdogan did not allow armed forces join rescue operations as soon as the extent of the disaster becomes clear.

Despite Erdogan’s tight control over the media, this criticism has been widely circulated in Turkey both on social media and among opposition parties and activists.

Erdoğan replied temporarily block access to Twitter and publicly announced that he was recording criticsto your notepad“To hold them accountable later.

But that did little to contain the anger directed at the president.

In power since 2003, Erdogan has developed reputation as an autocratprone to suppression of dissent rather than dealing with critics. According to many political observers, now he is unlikely to change his political views.

So the opposition is now A call to the Turkish electorate to choose a new leadership which can better prepare the country for future earthquakes.

Will Erdogan cancel the elections?

Erdogan’s party appears to be concerned that popular anger over the disaster response could affect the upcoming elections.

Bulent Arinc, founder of the AKP and former speaker of the Turkish Parliament, publicly called for postponing elections during a year. However, the Turkish Constitution only allows elections to be postponed in times of war. Consequently, Arinç determined the Constitution “not sacred” and urged not to take it into account.

Erdogan faces a serious dilemma. If he allows the elections to be held as planned in June 2023, he will most likely lose them. Even before the earthquake, a survey showed that he lose to one of three possible opponents in the presidential race.

Before the earthquake, Turkey was already experiencing a major economic crisiswith annual inflation rate exceeding 80% in the last six months. Six opposition parties were created, including those founded by a former AKP prime minister and a former AKP deputy prime minister. alliance against Erdogan.

For all these reasons, Erdogan may find the idea of ​​postponing the election beneficial, even if it is unconstitutional.

However, Erdogan does not know where these multiple economic and political problems are leading – they could worsen next year. Thus, postponing elections is risky.

In any case, Erdogan is likely to have a harder time maintaining his political hegemony in the future. His control of power was already in jeopardy, even before the earthquake.

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