Traditionally, in times of crises, President Erdoğan’s face has not been the one to appear on television screens. Like every tactical politician, he does not like to be the one giving the bad news. For example, in February of this year, 33 soldiers were killed in Idlib, Syria. It was not Erdoğan who announced this, but the governor of Hatay who took one for the team and delivered the information about the tragedy.
On March 30, Erdoğan was scheduled to speak after a teleconference meeting with his ministers and give the people an update about the developing situation concerning the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on Turkey. Considering that Erdogan has been building the political system in Turkey so that only his words carry real weight, people were rightfully very curious about the address. In particular, many wondered if he was going to announce a tight nationwide curfew or an update to the ineffective economic aid package he announced last week.
Erdoğan started his speech by praising Turkey’s pandemic mitigation efforts; in his well-known fashion of boosting nationalist spirits, he emphasized that Turkey was much more successful in fighting the virus than Europe and the United States. He also added that Turkey will not stop its economy and will continue production.
And then the President announced a measure that was unexpected for most. Rather than exploring new avenues of how the state can help the struggling economy and the people, Erdoğan announced the beginning of a charity campaign to raise the money necessary to keep the economy going. As the first step, he promised to donate seven month’s worth of his own salary. He then invited everyone to join and dubbed the campaign “We Are Enough For Each Other,” reinforcing strong national positions that hold that Turkey does not need to look for help from the IMF or other international entities. This way, the Palace implied that, rather than ringing the bell of Bretton Woods institutions, it will knock on the doors of Turkish citizens and ask for money.
Social media quickly filled with criticism against the campaign, as many claimed they already pay regular “donations” to the state, called taxes. Some noticed that Germany, the country that Erdoğan said was “jealous of Turkey for building the new Istanbul Airport,” has announced billions of Euros in a support package to its economy and people. Cynics could say that the second-largest airport in the world is not a great insurance asset at a time when the government is asking people attacked by the virus to donate money from their pockets.
On the other hand, some businesses close to the Palace seem to have already started to follow Erdoğan’s lead and make donations. In this case, clientelism could produce some positive externalities.
The economy has been brought to a near halt almost all over the world, and this could turn out to be the biggest global challenge of our lifetime. When economic systems and formulas become futile in fighting a crisis, the only thing we as humankind can and should turn to is massive solidarity and a reinvigorated understanding of what humanity means to each of us, and to us as a collective. However, the Turkish government seems to have turned this around and become the only state asking its people for money.
Another question regarding this unconventional initiative by Erdoğan’s government is much more mathematical in nature. One has to wonder about the extravagant state expenditures of more than 170 billion US dollars of tax revenue collected by the government last year. A simple, logical question at this time has to be whether Erdoğan’s new palace should really cost 20.8 million U.S. dollars per month of taxpayers’ money. Dreamy military campaigns in Syria and Libya, giant mosque projects in Africa, and the building of the longest and most expensive bridges to cross, all seem to have ultimately drained Turkey’s budget.
Populist leaders such as Erdoğan build their personality cults upon grandiose and megalomaniac projects. These usually work well in the construction of the leader’s political strength when the money is flowing. Erdoğan’s ambitions to end up in the textbooks as the greatest leader in the history of the Republic were able to be implemented due to the luxury of Turkey’s vibrant market and general lack of interest by a large part of the public about the state’s wasteful spending. However, at a time when Turkey, just like the rest of the world, is under grave threat from a new, unknown virus, and the state has to indirectly admit that it could soon be unable to pay for the basic needs, it is becoming obvious how costly this populist megalomania is.
Not only are Turkish people left to defend themselves from the virus on their own, now they are being asked to fill the financial holes of their government’s responsibility. If not more humane and more in solidarity with one another, people in Turkey could at least come out of this crisis more aware of the relationship between their government and themselves, and more in tune with the spending of their taxpayer money.
When I was a kid, certain national holidays were a big deal. As students, we would train for weeks for Children’s Day on April 23 and National Youth and Sports Day on May 19. Then we would perform some choreography mixed of dance and gymnastics in the city stadiums. Parents would come and cheer, people […]
Former President of Iran Mohammad Khatami gave an online speech on Sunday in which he warned of the potential for violence in Iran. After a long period of public inactivity, Khatami appeared out of nowhere, with an important and alarming message but a questionable ability to influence Iranians.
When President Erdoğan and his son-in-law Minister of Finance speak these days, they often remind people there is nothing to be afraid of. However, all of a sudden it has become a real struggle to pay the rent and the bills. It feels as if the pandemic is covering a silent wave of a much deadlier plague.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, millions of Turks have been posting all sorts of videos online every day. Some have complained about not being able to find medical masks in Turkey, including some health workers. And while the vast majority of these cases remain unanswered, the Turkish government decided to take on the case from Sweden and make it a top priority of the highest state officials, including the President himself.
The AKP has become increasingly anxious about losing the symbiotic relationship with its voters it has built and nurtured over the years. Losing this would directly undermine the very foundation of the AKP’s political discourse which claims that the AKP is the sole political party to successfully govern and serve in Turkey.
The past weekend’s power play induced much uncertainty and even panic about the government’s fight against the grave danger of the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey. However, it also revealed that new power centers within the ruling establishment have been built over time.
Nobody in their right mind can think that being an opposition party in an autocratic environment is easy. However, one cannot learn how to swim without jumping in the water. Ali Babacan's party DEVA seems to be enjoying the dry land, not taking any risks, at a time when citizens are expecting brave and wise leadership.
The health minister announcing the new numbers every night is creating an illusion of transparency. However, Turkish people are mostly being left in the dark. Little is being shared about the scope of the spread. Meanwhile it seems that President Erdoğan and his son-in-law and the Minister of the Economy see the coronavirus as an opportunity.
Turks on both the left and right of the spectrum have been united by conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. After the virus appeared, discourse about the U.S. trying to prevent the development of mighty China spread all over social media. Nationalist, leftist figures writing and speaking about the virus preferred to accuse the West when it came to the outbreak.
It is a fact that the ruling government has an obsession about Taksim square. The square is not only closed to women rallies, but pretty much any rally and gathering. There are though exceptions. One exception had been a group of Syrians celebrating new years with Free Syrian Army flags.
The refugees are not being told the truth by the authorities, Turkish public is not being told the truth either. Everybody is being kept in darkness that leads the way to more resentment and hatred.
Football in Turkey, as in many European countries, is structured around masculinity. Game days are the days when men can act like savages, insult men and women freely, and attack anyone they like — and they don’t face any consequences.
Turkey is still divided by the Gezi protests. Some see the protests as a struggle for freedom that had never happened before in Turkey and remember it with pride, while others detest the memory of the protests. For Erdoğan’s 50 percent, when the state tells you not to do something, you ought not to do it.
In a meeting between Mr Erdoğan and his party’s MPs, some MPs voiced their concerns about Turkish soap operas that they found to be not suitable for Turkish values and culture. According to the reports, Mr. Erdoğan agreed with the MPs and told them he was disturbed as well. When the President voices a concern about a matter, a new decree or law usually follows.
The chaos that occurred after the June 2015 election worked for Erdoğan, but his approval ratings tend to fall when terror attacks or wars halt and people start worrying about the economy. According to Metropoll, the last time Erdoğan’s approval rating was higher than 50 percent was 2018; the economy seems to be taking its toll on Erdoğan.
Up until now, the local businessmen used to support AKP without reservation, and it used to be a win-win situation for both parties. However, this cooperation seems to be fading. When Suriçi Group Platform hosts CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, it is a significant development for Turkish politics.
There is the talk of early elections, both on the street and in back rooms. There is an expectation that some change will occur. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has a more critical part to play in Turkish politics. However, it seems that it won’t be easy for the HDP to keep their traditional voter base satisfied while becoming a more relevant actor in the upcoming political period.
While many of the pro-government figures in Turkey were preaching about what sort of a villain Soleimani was, the Turkish secular left was busy describing him as the “Che Guevara of the Middle East.” Though it depends on how one perceives Che Guevara, the comparison was supposed to be a compliment to Soleimani’s legacy.
Totalitarian systems usually come up with their own ideal man. Tayyip Erdoğan believes the future of his Turkey lies in İmam Hatip school education. He believes the only way to create his “ideal man” is to educate young Turkish people in line with the strict religious education of the imam hatip schools. As Erdoğan became stronger, so did the imam hatip schools.
President Erdoğan’s military advisor and the founder of the armed group SADAT, recently suggested that Islamic unity will be possible when Mahdi comes. Erdoğan’s military advisor announcing his mission to prepare for Mahdi’s arrival is definitely not a good sign for Turkey’s near future.
Horses tumbling down and breathing their last breaths, while still being harnessed to the carriage has also turned into an everyday scene at the Princes’ Islands of Istanbul. Weak, limping horses trying to pull crowded families up the hills, often looks like a horror scene from a dystopian movie.
Led by Erdoğan, the AKP has been reshaping the secular life of Turks for the last 17 years, bit by bit. The latest in the line of religiously-inspired incidents happened in Adana, a southern Turkish city with a unique character whose people are proud of their city, their type of kabab and their Adana ways.
Last Sunday, women gathered in one of the Istanbul’s busy centers, Kadıköy. Their aim was to protest violence against women and the inaction of the state. However, as usual in recent years in Turkey, the police jumped in and dispersed the crowd, detaining some of the women protesters.
Turkey is now being ruled by an exceptional version of a presidential system. Everything is ultimately decided by the President, with ministries and the legislative branch having a marginal influence. But he also wants citizens to be able to reach the Palace directly. And CIMER is the answer!
Imamoğlu ran his election campaign not on a narrative of fighting, but a narrative of peace. He promised to be inclusive, and he was careful not to target Erdoğan in his speeches. He aimed to grab AKP votes by not targeting Erdoğan. However, now it seems that he is shifting gears.
Gas prices have doubled overnight in Iran. Since Nov. 15, street protests and riots have been spreading. The protests started peacefully, but turned violent fairly quickly. The security forces were relentless: they had no intention of tolerating this public objection to the price increase.
One of the heaviest financial crises in Turkey’s history was in 2001. It first became public symbolically when a salesman threw a cash till at then-Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit. The man threw the giant cash box in front of the cameras as Ecevit was walking into his office. As the till hit the floor and shattered into pieces, the salesman yelled, “We are struggling!” The incident symbolically marked the beginning of the end of the Ecevit era.
The Sevres Syndrome has been a factor that impedes rationality for many Turkish citizens trying to make some sense of global dynamics. In recent years, Turkish-American relations have deteriorated at an unprecedented rate. For many Turks, this was simply another example of hatred against the Turks, this time coming from across the ocean. However, even in the more rational circles in Turkey, it is almost impossible to hear critical analysis concerning Turkey’s responsibility in the failing relationship.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Turks established the Turkish Republic. However, even the issue of what to celebrate proves that Turks have a long road ahead before they feel like a truly united nation that shares similar ideals and prospects for future.
According to Turkish civil law, the party who has the economic advantage in the marriage is to pay for children’s expenses and some expenses of the former spouse. In most cases the economic advantage is with the men, since on the one hand many men do not want their wives to work during the marriage and also social inequalities cause men to be the breadwinners of the families, not the women.