Erdoğan increasingly behaves like Putin
OpEd in: Het Financieele Dagblad
Unopposed Turkish’ ruling party AKP chose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan again as party leader. That says a lot about the adoration of his followers, but also a lot about the way he manages his party. Like a sultan, who tolerates no criticism and insists on respect, loyalty and harmony.
Several critical journalists have been dismissed or are in custody. At the party congress he again showcased his vision of liberal democracy. Newspapers and broadcasters of the opposition were denied access. Previously he criticized Ümit Boyner, president of the main business association TÜSIAD, to mind her own business after she asked the government for less polarization and more accountability.
Erdoğan, the charismatic politician, who turned Turkey into a dynamic and confident country, tried to pose again as an exemplary democrat in an emotional, two and a half hour, speech. But the opposition knows what that his promises are worth. After the Islamist-rooted AK Party again won the general elections in June 2011 with a landslide of 50% of the vote to form a third-consecutive majority government, Erdoğan promised more democracy and more cooperation with the opposition. The opposite happened.
Erdoğan likes to polarize and behaves increasingly like the authoritarian Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is currently in his third and final term as Prime Minister. In 2014 he hopes to be elected as president, with more powers than that of the current president Abdullah Gül. Many liberal analysts fear that in that scenario a further deterioration of the Turkish political climate: from a weak democracy with an intimidated press, a weak parliament and a politically driven judiciary, to a system with Russian characteristics.
The AK Party, a coalition of religious right, nationalists and advocates of a liberal market economy, made many reforms to meet the EU criteria between 2002 and 2010 The ambition to become a member of the EU dropped to number 60 on the AKP’s 63-point to-do list for 2023. It is obvious what Erdoğan dreams of: an Erdoğan-democracy and a role for himself as the leader of the Islamic world.