Spartan Shield

Why should I care about Turkey’s elections?

Ricardo Meyer, Feature Editor

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On April 18, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that elections will be held on June 24, 2018, instead of on the regular date, November 3, 2019, shocking not only his opposition but the public as well.

Everyone is wondering why Erdogan would make such a big announcement with no warning. Answers to this question vary, but they all suggest the same motive: surprise, especially targeted against the desperate opposition. The opposing party announced it will ally with everybody, even right-winged parties, to stop Erdogan’s reelection.

“I will be everyone’s president, a non-partisan president”, Muharrem Ince told thousands of flag-waving supporters at a rally in Ankara, where he was named the opposition’s nominee to challenge Erdogan. Once again stating his displeasure with the current political situation, he declared, ”The depressing times will end on June 24.”

Turkey’s economy was identified as a reason for the shocking announcement as well. The country’s booming economy will likely be unable to sustain its growth until the scheduled elections, but its current success has high probability of working in Erogdan’s favor in an earlier election.

What exactly triggered the overall political displeasure in the country? It is likely due to multiple causes, most prominent among them being the restrictions imposed on the freedom of speech, which have led to journalists being arrested and private news organizations declaring bankruptcy.

The failed protections of human rights and Erdogan’s continuous fight to turn Turkey into a “presidential dictatorship” are also reasons for the turmoil in the country, which erupted after Erdogan won a referendum that allowed him to change the constitution, and ultimately resulted with him gaining control over the entire judiciary branch.

Predictions about what will happen if Erdogan were to be reelected circle the media on a daily basis. “The office of prime minister will cease to exist. Erdogan will become head of state, head of government, head of the police, head of the army and head of the ruling party,” predicted Soner Cagaptay, a fellow at the Washington Institute in an interview with Reuters. “He will become the most powerful Turkish leader since Ataturk, and in some regards more powerful.”

“Erdogan has all odds stacked in his favor.” continued Cagaptay. ”From economic growth to the state of emergency which he has been using to crack down on the opposition, to a near complete control of the media.”

However, the fate of Turkey has not been sealed completely, and could in fact change on June 24. This would leave the task of returning back to the opposition’s nominee and delegates.

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Why should I care about Turkey’s elections?