Gardner: ‘Turkey’s overarching problem is Mr Erdogan’

”Turkey has fallen hostage to the ambition of one man: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After voters in June stripped the ruling Justice and Development party of its majority, denying the neo-Islamist AKP a fourth triumph, he has all but hijacked the country into a new general election” writes David Gardner, in his column, Financial Times:

”The June result delivered a hung parliament. But its message was that a clear majority of Turks do not want one-man rule. Since ascending to what had been a largely ceremonial office last year, President Erdogan has already grabbed power from parliament, cabinet and institutions such as the judiciary. His avowed aim was to win a supermajority for the AKP in order to recast the constitution around his overweening taste for unbridled power.

No matter that the country he has done much to polarise is assailed on all fronts: menaced from its southern border by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which last month began attacks inside Turkey; facing reignited fighting in the mainly Kurdish south-east; and with a stagnating economy and falling currency vulnerable to short-term capital flows amid deep uncertainty in emerging markets.

Ruling like a capricious sultan from his kitsch new neo-Ottoman palace four times the size of Versailles, he seems to incarnate the spirit of the remark attributed to Louis XV: après moi, le deluge.

Many Turkish observers of this mercurial leader, including some within the AKP orbit, believe he decided on a re-run of the election almost as soon as the June results came in. Paternalist to a fault, he appears to believe Turks gave the wrong answer and would have to sit the test again. They would soon see that Turkey’s maladies arise from their failure to stick with one-party government under a strong president.”

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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