Turkey’s Elections: Partially Free, Fair, and Fake
Blog Post by Steven A. Cook
June 25, 2018
It should not be a surprise except to the most hopeful that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is once again president of Turkey and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will enjoy an effective parliamentary majority with its partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Erdogan supporters are rejoicing while his opposition, which many Turks believe was revitalized even in defeat, licks its wounds. It is an outcome that sounds familiar and was likely never in doubt. President Erdogan has worked hard over seven long years to get to this point; he can now put what Turks refer to as the “executive presidency” into action. As a result, he will enjoy significant new powers with little oversight, allowing Erdogan to pursue the transformation of Turkey into a powerful, prosperous, and pious society unencumbered. The extraordinary aspect of Turkey’s elections was obviously not the outcome, but rather the way it was conducted. The entire process was somewhere on the spectrum between free and unfree and fair and unfair, bewildering participants and observers alike. The confusion helped Erdogan win with a veneer of democratic legitimacy. It seems to be the perfect template for future elections in Turkey and other countries with populist and authoritarian leaders.
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