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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, winning 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.

Photo of a woman walking by a campaign poster of Turkish President and People's Alliance's presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul

In Istanbul, Turkey.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — 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.

Erdogan's nationalist agenda

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.

He has managed to reactivate powerful national myths.

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.

Photo of a crowd of AKP waving flags and celebrating election results in Izmir, Turkey.

AKP supporters celebrating election results in Izmir, Turkey, on May 28.

Dil Toffolo/Pacific Press/ZUMA

A force to reckon with

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.

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Israel's Fifth War — For Its Blood, And Soul

There are very real risks that this conflict may expand and re-shape the entire region. Israel appears to have the means to win on the battlefield, but risks losing along the way the very principles of justice on which it was founded.

Photo of two Israeli soldiers pictures near Sderot, Israel

IDF soldiers in Sderot, Israel, on Oct. 19

Dominique Moïsi


PARIS — After the War of Independence in 1948, the Suez War in 1956, the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Israel is now facing its fifth war.

This conflict has evolved beyond conventional battles between regular armies of opposing nations. The situation since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks cannot be seen as just a continuation of previous skirmishes in Gaza.

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In the words of Israel's President, Isaac Herzog, "Never since the Holocaust have so many Jews been killed in a single day." The risks associated with this conflict are real and far-reaching: They extend from the potential escalation on the northern front with Hezbollah to the threat of a third intifada in the West Bank. There is also the unlikely but possible scenario of a direct confrontation with Iran.

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