Outright victory in the first round of Turkey’s presidential elections has propelled Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into the foremost rank of global strongman leaders in the style of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. But his unchecked political dominance may mark the beginning of a new dark age for Turkish democracy.
Erdoğan’s triumphantly aggressive acceptance speech from the balcony of the Ankara headquarters of his neo-Islamist Justice and Development party (AKP) set an ominous tone. He vowed to continue to “fight decisively” against Turkey’s enemies at home and abroad, as defined by him.
“We never bow down in front of anyone except God,” he declared. Erdoğan had no kind words for his defeated challengers. He offered no olive branch to the roughly 47% of the electorate that did not back him or his AKP-led parliamentary alliance. Given his daunting record since 2003, vanquished rivals have cause to fear political payback once the dust settles. Retribution is something Erdoğan excels at. [Continue reading…]