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Turkey

Erdogan's Unique Recipe Of Nearly Absolute Power

Why was President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's supposed ally forced out of the Prime Minister post? The answer lies in the particular ambitions of this Turkish leader.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation economy meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, November, 2015
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation economy meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, November, 2015
Nuray Mert

ISTANBUL — Good thing that Davutoglu kept his silence.

The die-hard supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were on the verge of calling outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu a "coup conspirator." For you never can tell what those surrounding the President might end up doing once accusations start circulating about being "Germany's man" or "America's man."

This is how things are in Turkey right now: You can't tell who might be run off the path at any given moment. The answers to the question: "What was Davutoglu's crime?" come from the people of his own party, his own political mission. His crime, fault, sin was this: the level of "compliance" was not sufficient.

"He did not understand that the system had changed," one observer said of Davutoglu, a longtime ally of Erdogan.

Well, to be truthful, we are having a hard time gauging this "system change" too. There is a major change underway in Turkey, but it has nothing to do with any kind of a system — but in fact is the lack of one. Let us remember that scene years ago when Erdogan was Prime Minister, and as part of the tradition on the Turkish children's annual holiday, a child symbolically sits in the Prime Minister's seat. "Now, you have the authority," Erdogan told the child. "You hang whoever you want, you slay whoever you want. You have everything."

It was understood in time that the office of prime minister, or even now the presidency, were never enough for Erdogan. These positions still do not let you to hang or slay at will. And thus, a "Turkish-style presidency" is now being born.

I don't know if Erdogan's ambitions have anything to do with Turkishness. It reminds me of the "Eastern despotism" imagined in the heads of Orientalists in the West. We have been forced to argue against these ideas that despotism, or "sultanism," is somehow exclusive to the East or to the Ottoman Empire. The truth is that there was political and institutional order that enabled the reign over a vast geography for centuries. But, it is clear that our political Islamists, just like western Orientalists, believe our "historic legacy" was the arbitrary rule of an individual. Now we hear people calling this a "Turkish-style presidency."

Full compliance

And yet now we see the transformation, of which even Davutoglu became an obstacle, into a total arbitrary approach to governance; a call for full compliance that can be summed up as: "Allah is great, Erdogan is our leader."

It's almost surprising that they haven't sought to eliminate the parliament, constitution and the supreme judiciary because, ultimately, Erdogan believes he knows better than everyone about everything. All those institutions would be unnecessary within the scope of the ideas of the presidency they are throwing around. Of course, parts of those institutions must remain so there are positions and opportunities to hand out to the loyalists, to keep alive the "who is more loyal to the chief" race — always run under the disguise of "the cause."

Now Davutoglu, who might have been considered the last check on power, at least in terms of foreign policy, is gone. I am afraid that the sequel in the Turkey film series will be highly violent. Children should be kept away.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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