Erdoğan, a leader who did many essential reforms in Turkey and helped its development, since in 2003 he became Prime Minister of Turkey. In the recent years he has become more and more authoritarian and expressing his Islamic ideas, creating a cult of personality around him. From a good example to the other Middle East countries, Erdoğan is now putting Turkey in an uncertain future.
ALWAYS THE KURDS
Erdoğan never hided his conservative and religious ideas, he was even in prison for claiming a religious poem before he founded AKP. During his mandates as Prime-minister, he made peace with the Kurds, but he understood now that this was not the best option for him. After attacks in the Kurdistan area of Turkey, the cease fire between the Turkish Government and the Kurdish terrorist group PKK ended, now many Kurdish top-politicians are in jail, labelled of terrorists.
When in 2015 the pro-Kurdish party HDP was able to pass the 10% elections threshold, I thought that this would prevent Erdoğan of getting his Presidential system, but I was wrong. In the 2015 election AKP won without majority. A coalition was needed, but none of the four parties represented in the Parliament agreed to form government, this held to new elections last November, after the end of the cease fire with the PKK.
The pro-Kurdish party lost some seats, which helped AKP to reach majority, but not enough to change the constitution alone. In the beginning of 2017, 18 amendments to the Turkish Constitution were approved with MHP’s help, reducing the legislative powers of the Parliament and giving more powers to the President, a long waited wish by Erdoğan. These amendments to be approved have to pass in a national referendum that will take place on the 16 of April, while some of the HDP lawmakers are still in jail.
A Troubled economy
The Turkish economy that was growing fast during the first AKP mandates, is now slowing down. The problems began to intensify after the failed military coup, last July, around 130,000 civil servants lost their jobs and 45,000 have been arrested, including academics, journalists, politicians, militaries, businessmen, etc. In addition to Kurds and Kemalists, Erdoğan is now challenging as well the Hizmet movement, nowadays known by FETO, the government confiscated around 800 companies owned by Gülen supporters.
This purge, that have been taken place since 15 July, is affecting the enviable growth of the Turkish economy. The gross domestic product is going down, the unemployment is rising, the rating agencies slashed Turkey's credit rating to junk status, the tourism sector is having troubles and the Turkish lira dropped to a historic low against the US dollar.
All these factors combined show the fragile situation that Turkish economy is facing, but this “economic terror” it is in some part due the fear that businessmen have to invest in the “New Turkey” that emerged with the Erdoğan’ obsession for more power. As Turkey still in state of emergency, no-one knows what can happen after the referendum and markets do not like instability.
Erdoğan created his own world, putting everyone who is not by his side in the enemy flank. Even the European Union, that helped Turkey turning into a more democratic State and its economy with European funds, is now being attacked as if it is the main source of the Turkish problems, in order to distract Turkish people from the real internal problems provoked by the increasing of President authoritarianism.
Erdoğan with his persistence that external powers are against the development of Turkey, must have forgotten that Europe is an irreplaceable for Turkey. Not only Europe depends on Turkey to control the influx of refugees, as Turkey depends from the European investment for a strong economy. And both are old NATO allies who must coordinate their efforts to solve the situation in Syria and find ways to prevent more terrorist attacks. Everyone has its limits and Erdoğan is pushing Europe Union too much.
The New Turkey’s time
Turkish citizens, however their origins and believes have the democratic power to vote and decide what they want for their home country. The future of Turkey is again in Turkish hands, but they need to understand that is not a simple change in the Turkish regime that is going on, it is something deeper that will affect the daily life. They will have to choose between a New Turkey where the death penalty is back and the one-man rule will take care of their destinies with an increasing authoritarianism, or they will choose to have a true strong New Turkey in the European Union with a democracy where freedom of speech is respected and Kurds, Alevis and other minority groups have their rights defended, as a true model for the other Middle East countries. The fight between Evet and Hayır might has been another surprise as the last referendums in Europe, but the Turkish referendum is for sure another clash between populism/nationalism against liberalism/globalisation.