Er­do­gan’s glory and hubris

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS KONSTANDARAS

mains in power. He is tram­pling in­sti­tu­tions, swing­ing from one ma­jor pol­icy change to the next and risk­ing his coun­try’s in­volve­ment in two wars in­side its borders and be­yond. Com­pared to the risks Tur­key faces, Greece’s eco­nomic cri­sis and its weak­ened diplo­matic stand­ing look like a sim­ple mat­ter. In the most gen­eral terms, Greece’s de­cline can be at­trib­uted to a po­lit­i­cal class that saw the art of gov­ern­ment as buy­ing as many votes as pos­si­ble and pro­vid­ing ev­ery in­ter­est group with what it de­manded. When the easy credit ended, the Greek econ­omy and so­ci­ety were taken by sur­prise. The lack of mech­a­nisms for deal­ing with dif­fi­cul­ties, a men­tal­ity which made politi- cal com­pro­mise all but im­pos­si­ble, and a deep sense of in­jus­tice on the part of cit­i­zens made it very dif­fi­cult for any gov­ern­ment to han­dle the de­cline in liv­ing stan­dards and ex­pec­ta­tions. Yet, even as the po­lit­i­cal cen­ter col­lapsed, Greece re­mains the same coun­try. Our in­sti­tu­tions func­tion, al­beit with weak­nesses, and we are all anx­ious to see a re­cov­ery. Greece does not face the threat of vi­o­lence and di­vi­sion. In Tur­key, the AKP’s loss of its par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity in June elec­tions threat­ens to block Er­do­gan’s dream to turn the pres­i­dency into a pow­er­ful ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion. By stok­ing ten­sion with Tur­key’s Kur­dish mi­nor­ity, he seems to want to frighten cit­i­zens into seek­ing a strong gov­ern­ment in early elec­tions, thus fa­vor­ing the big­gest party, the AKP. Fight­ing be­tween the Turk­ish mil­i­tary and Kur­dish mil­i­tants is tear­ing away at a ceasefire that Er­do­gan helped engi­neer in 2013. This, com­bined with an end to Tur­key’s tol­er­ance of Is­lamic State ex­trem­ists and the re­cent deal al­low­ing the United States to at­tack IS from Tur­key, has opened two bat­tle­fronts. It is an in­cred­i­bly great risk for un­cer­tain po­lit­i­cal gain. Risk-tak­ing is in Er­do­gan’s blood, and it has served Tur­key well. But the same self-con­fi­dence, the lack of a strong op­po­nent and his un­der­min­ing of in­sti­tu­tions have now em­pow­ered him to set loose forces that could tear his coun­try apart.

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