President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's sudden moves to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention and sack the Central Bank governor with midnight decrees on March 20 were analyzed by Financial Times' David Gardner, who said that the Turkish president's "tantrum is a sign of weakness."
According to Gardner, Erdoğan had a "Donald Trump moment" on March 20.
"Instead of one of the former U.S. president’s Twitter tantrums, Erdoğan issued decrees. The first, firing the Central Bank governor, could amount to economic suicide. The second, withdrawing from a treaty to prevent violence against women that Turkey was the first to sign a decade ago, threatens to bury the remnants of the country’s reputation as a democracy that protects all its citizens," he said.
Commenting on the removal of Naci Ağbal as the Central Bank head days after a rate hike, Gardner noted that the fact that the Turkish inflation remained high was proof for Erdoğan that his theory on interest rate rises accelerating rather than putting a brake on inflation was correct.
"Ağbal’s replacement, Şahap Kavcıoğlu, a little-known banker, former MP and cheerleading columnist on an AKP tabloid, certainly believes so," the journalist said, using the abbreviation of Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party.
"But Erdoğan’s monetary bombshell almost pales beside his pulling out of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe treaty to combat violence against women. Erdoğan, ever more autocratic since he ascended to the presidency in 2014, at a stroke lifted still fragile protections from half the population of Turkey, where as many as three women a day are murdered," he said.
According to Gardner, Erdoğan's recent moves that undermine democracy and the rule of law led to Erdoğan "almost losing the ability to set coherent policy."
"Instead, after losing control of most of Turkey’s great cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, in 2019’s local elections, he concentrates on throwing political red meat to his Islamist and ultranationalist electorate. A hollowed-out AKP is more like an opposition than a ruling party on the cusp of its third decade in power. This is a demonstration of power, but also of vulnerability," Gardner said.