The Platform


Turkey’s political well has been forever poisoned.

Turkey has just concluded the most important election in the country’s history. Turkish voters came to determine their destiny at a time when their national economic condition is very worrisome. The depreciation of the lira against the dollar has made the cost of goods out of reach for many. Inflation is now rampant in the country having reached close to 85%. Despite the country’s economic instability, the majority of Turkish voters stuck with Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Adding to the country’s woes, 11 provinces are struggling to deal with the shock of the devasting February earthquake that killed over 50,000 people.

Erdogan hails from the conservative political camp. He first entered politics with Nazimuddin Erbakan’s Salvation Party. Erdogan was first elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994. At that time, he took the initiative to solve various problems like air pollution, waste collection, and a shortage of clean water. However, in 1997, he had to stand trial for reciting a controversial poem by Ziya Gökalp. Erdogan was sentenced to four months in prison for spreading religious hatred.

The first decade of Erdogan’s rule saw democratic reforms in Turkey. These had to be undertaken because of the country’s desire to join the European Union. During this time, Erdogan was praised at home and abroad for reducing the authority of the military and working to protect the rights of women and minority groups. However, as the years passed, Erdogan was criticized for becoming more authoritarian and for worsening divisions in Turkey.

Erdogan became popular in the Muslim world by engaging in anti-Western rhetoric and developing relations with Muslim countries. He converted Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential system in 2014. According to the opposition, Erdogan made these changes to enjoy sole power. Erdogan’s supporters regard him as fatherly, but opponents consider him an authoritarian ruler. Its reflection can be seen in the international environment. Erdogan has created distance between Turkey, an important NATO member, and its allies, the United States and Europe. At the same time, he has made numerous overtures to both Russia and China.

According to Jeffrey Mankoff, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “The 2023 Turkish presidential election…will be eagerly followed in Western capitals – and in Moscow. Russia favours [Erdogan], while the West tacitly prefers his main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, according to analysts. But an opposition win would not guarantee an obstacle-free path to pivoting Turkey back towards the West.”

Therefore, with Erdogan ruling Turkey for the past 20 years, there has been a major change in Turkey’s foreign policy as well as socio-economic development. As a result of his long rule, he made many enemies and allies at home and abroad. Will Erdogan be able to repair Turkey’s economy, and how will he regain the public’s trust? These questions have become important.

Athar Noor is a political analyst. He frequently writes about politics and international relations, particularly as they relate to the Middle East. Athar holds a Master's degree in Islamic theology and literature from the Islamic University of Dhaka. Athar is currently attending the University of Chittagong in Chattogram, Bangladesh, studying International Relations.