What five more years of Erdogan mean for Turkey – and the world
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cemented his already tight grip on power in Turkey, with an unprecedented third term as president. The West had hoped for a slightly less unpredictable leader, but they will have to make peace with an emboldened Erdogan, who may become even more autonomous. For France Inter, Pierre Haski lists the three lessons this reelection teaches us.
The re-election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not come as a surprise, as Turkey's incumbent president’s lead in the first round was reaffirmed yesterday.
The real surprise had occurred in the first round, contradicting Turkish polls and analyses that predicted the president, in power for 20 years, would be penalized by the deep economic crisis and the devastating earthquake in February. However, that was not the case — or at least not entirely: Erdogan had to face a second round for the first time but was not threatened by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of the united opposition.
The president will not fail to assert this reelection as democratic victory to his critics, who label him as an autocrat. However, this overlooks the highly illiberal democracy in place in Turkey, where the president dominates television airwaves to a far greater extent than his rivals. Misleading videos have been circulated during the president's electoral rallies, as Erdogan himself eventually admitted. Political prisoners are abundant, including the leader of an opposition party. Not to mention the populist campaign promises, a common occurrence.
Nevertheless, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won, and this victory cannot be taken away from him. Three lessons can be drawn from this. The first is that indeed, in illiberal democracies, it becomes challenging to defeat the ruling party through fair means. It is not impossible, as demonstrated by Jair Bolsonaro's defeat in Brazil, but it requires a greater mobilization than in a more open system. Democratic oppositions in such countries will need to learn from this experience.
The second lesson is the weight of the nationalist current, which transcends political divisions. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his allies were able to embody it.
Over the years, Erdogan has given Turkey an oversized international posture, risking friction with allies and partners. He has provided Turks with reasons for national pride, such as the success of the combat drone Bayaktir. Additionally, he has managed to reactivate powerful national myths, such as those surrounding the Ottoman Empire.
This nationalist feeling has proven to be stronger than the bite of inflation or the revelation of corruption, as well as the significant damage caused by the February earthquake. It has also influenced the opposition candidate, who engaged in distasteful rhetoric by exploiting the presence of nearly four million Syrians in Turkey.
The third lesson is that Erdogan will continue to be a force to reckon with for years to come, with his ambiguities and unpredictability.
His presence is felt on multiple fronts: as a restless member of NATO, the only one to maintain an open line with Vladimir Putin, and as a significant player in regional conflicts such as the one between Azerbaijan and Armenia or in the internal crisis in Libya.
Western countries had hoped for a more predictable leader in Turkey; they will now have to live with Erdogan who, empowered by his victory, may become even more autonomous than ever before.
— Pierre Haski/France Inter
• Erdogan re-elected as Turkish president: Turkey’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in power for the past 20 years, was re-elected as the country’s leader in the second round of the presidential election. Erdogan garnered 52.2% of the vote, beating opposition’s Kemal Kilicdaroglu's 47.8%. Kilicdaroglu called the vote "the most unfair election in years" but did not contest the results.
• Kyiv targeted by new wave of attacks: Explosions were reported in the center of Kyiv, as Russia reportedly fired ballistic missiles on the Ukrainian capital. This follows two nights of heavy drone strikes across Ukraine, including in the Lviv, Odessa, Vinnytsia and Khmelnytskyi regions. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have reportedly conducted shelling in the Russian border region of Belgorod.
• U.S. debt ceiling deal sends stocks up: After weeks of intense negotiations, U.S. President Joe Biden announced an agreement had been found with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to suspend the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025. The announcement of the deal, now scheduled to move to Congress for a vote, has sent world markets up, including Japan’s Nikkei, which hit a 33-year high.
• Japan defenses on alert over North Korea “satellite” launch: Japan has put its ballistic missile defenses on alert after North Korea announced its plan to launch a satellite between May 31 and June 11. The operation is suspected to be either a disguised missile test or Pyongyang’s first military spy satellite into orbit. Japan’s Self Defence Force is ordered to shoot down the satellite or debris if any enters Japanese territory.
• Nigeria president sworn in: President-elect Bola Tinubu is set to be sworn into office after winning the highly disputed presidential election on Feb. 25. The former Lagos governor starts his mandate at the head of Africa's most populous democracy with very high expectations from Nigerians, as the country faces mounting debts and inflation, widespread poverty and hunger, as well as insecurity and corruption.
• First Chinese civilian in space: Gui Haichao will become the first Chinese civilian astronaut to be sent to space. The 36-year-old payload expert and professor at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics has been picked to be part of the crewed Shenzhou XVI mission to the Tiangong space station on Tuesday. Until now, only members of the People’s Liberation Army had been selected for the country’s ambitious space program.
• Bright green Venice: A patch of water in Venice’s famed Grand Canal mysteriously turned fluorescent green, causing equal parts panic and amusement among residents and tourists. Local authorities have collected water samples and opened an urgent investigation. Speculations are mainly directed at climate activists.
Istanbul-based newspaper Milliyet dedicates its frontpage to the re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s general elections. In his speech addressing supporters outside the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey's strongman of 20 years assured the crowd that “the entire nation of 85 million won.”
74 million tons
According to a new report released by Greenpeace, the world’s top automakers are responsible for the global emission of 74 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. The environmental advocacy group explains this very high figure by the failure of the industry to decarbonize and solve its dependence on steel as a key manufacturing material. The top 16 automakers used an estimated 39-65 million tons of steel in 2022, with Toyota leading the charge (6.3 million tons), followed by Volkswagen and Hyundai-Kia (5.2 million tons each).
After Belgorod: Does the Russian opposition have a path to push out Putin?
The month of May has seen a brazen drone attack on the Kremlin and a major incursion by Russian rebels across the border war into the Russian region of Belgorod. Could this lead to Russians pushing Vladimir Putin out of power? Or an all-out civil war? Journalist Anna Akage tells us more in Worldcrunch.
🇷🇺 Two far-right Russian units fighting on the side of Ukraine entered the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation, riding on tanks and quickly crossing the border to seize Russian military equipment and take over checkpoints. This was not the first raid, but it was by far the longest and most successful. The units were eventually forced to pass back into Ukrainian territory.
💥 The Russian Volunteer Corps and the Legion of Free Russia, whose fighters entered the Belgorod region, consist of right-wing and far-right Russian nationalists, some of whom also have criminal histories. According to independent Russian Agents Media, the militants include many members of neo-Nazi organizations and adherents of the monarchist system, aiming to bring down Putin's regime by military means.
📰 Russian journalist Andrei Malgin, in an interview with the Vot Tak YouTube channel, said that under the current circumstances, there are no good outcomes for Russia because the opposition is too toothless, the militants are too extremist, and the most popular figure among Russians today is the leader of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
“Join the Union State of Belarus and Russia. That's all: There will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”
— In an interview on Russia's state television, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko invited other nations to unite with neighbor Russia, saying: “No one is against Kazakhstan and other countries having the same close relations that we have with the Russian Federation." Lukashenko, a close ally to Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin, added that in such a union, there would be "nuclear weapons for everyone," referring to Moscow’s recent deployment of tactical warheads in Belarus, the first such action since the fall of the USSR in 1991.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed a crowd of AKP supporters as he was re-elected at the head of Turkey for a third time. — Photo: Depo Photos/ZUMA
✍️ Newsletter by Bertrand Hauger, Laure Gautherin and Sophie Jacquier
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