By Halil Karaveli
May 23, 2023
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s failure in the first round of Turkey’s presidential election is a testimony to the waning appeal of liberalism in the face of ethnic conflict and refugee flows. The Turkish nationalism on which Kılıçdaroğlu has fatefully stumbled is fuelled by the Kurdish challenge and the Syrian refugees. But it is also fed by a heightened sense of national insecurity in a global context of escalating geopolitical confrontation. The virulently nationalist rhetoric against the Syrian refugees that Kılıçdaroğlu has adopted in order to make himself a palatable choice to right wing Turkish nationalists does not necessarily offer him a path to victory. Tarnishing his image as a liberal and social democrat, he risks forfeiting the support of the Kurdish voters as well as the support of Turkish liberals and leftists.
By Halil Karaveli
May 8, 2023
It was the perceived need by the Turkish state to check the Kurdish political movement that precipitated the transition to the presidential system. Today, it is Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s determination to abolish this system that has secured him the support of the Kurdish movement and set him on a path to victory on May 14. But conversely this also makes Kılıçdaroğlu unacceptable to the state. A peaceful transition of power – which has been a cornerstone of Turkish democracy despite its deeply flawed character otherwise – cannot be taken for granted. The most optimistic scenario is that decision-makers in the state nonetheless conclude that the democratic legitimacy of the state must be preserved and wager that they can control and constrain Kılıçdaroğlu if he is elected president, ensuring the survival of the system over which Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has presided.
Turkey wants to press the point that it is not an unreliable NATO ally and disprove the suspicion that it is in cahoots with Russia. The ratification of Finland’s NATO membership aims at debunking theories that Turkey is delaying the approval process of NATO’s Nordic enlargement in order to please Russia. In fact, the anti-Russian steps that Turkey has taken since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are more than meets the eye. Turkey represents the main NATO asset in counterbalancing Russia in the Black Sea which has become a new center of gravity for NATO strategy and operations. But Turkey’s loyalty with NATO does not mean that it will soon ratify also Sweden’s membership, even if the opposition wins the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
By Barış Soydan
March 24, 2022
While the disaster that struck Turkey on February 6 has brought attention to the collusion between political power and construction companies, the fact that the opposition maintains the same unhealthy relations with business where it’s in charge and its reluctance to address the concerns of the poorer classes preclude deeper, systemic changes if it wins the election. But without holding out the prospect of major social and economic reform, it remains to be seen whether the opposition succeeds in beating Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.