By Halil Karaveli
January 25, 2024
Turkey’s new opposition leader Özgür Özel is proposing to do something that no one has attempted in Turkey since the early 1990s, to revive a social democratic alternative. Yet the CHP’s new leader is making a turn to the left under inauspicious circumstances. The right in its different shades is hegemonic and there is no societal clamor for social justice and equality. Meanwhile, the Turkish labor movement has been reduced to insignificance, depriving social democracy of a base of working class militancy. Yet rampant inequality needs to be addressed, and a left-wing message that addresses economic concerns can help transcend Turkey’s crippling ethnic divisions, encouraging Turkish and Kurdish lower classes to make common cause. It offers a way out of Turkey’s democratic impasse.
By Reuben Silverman
January 12, 2024
On the eve of Turkey’s centennial anniversary celebrations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a mass rally in support of Palestine. He reminded his audience that, only a century earlier, Gaza had been part of the Ottoman Empire. He condemned Israel’s government and criticized the West for remaining silent in the face of Israel’s retaliatory killing of civilians, wondering if it wanted to encourage conflict between “crescent and cross.” Yet, while this heated rhetoric positions Turkey as the ultimate opponent of Israeli expansionism and protector of Palestinians, it obscures on-going Turkish-Israeli relations and the strategic interests that may limit Erdoğan’s actual diplomatic options.
By Barış Soydan
September 8, 2023
Hailed by markets as the “savior” of the Turkish economy, Mehmet Şimşek has in fact launched policies whose price will be borne by large segments of the public. Tax hikes, although narrowing the budget deficit, will further fuel inflation, increasing poverty. In this respect, the new fiscal policy resurrects the paradigm that guided the IMF program in 2001. However, staying true to the spirit of the IMF program is a recipe for political troubles ahead for the Erdoğan regime. With municipal elections due in March 2024, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may therefore well conclude that “heterodox” economic policies will have to be resurrected.
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 Reuben Silverman
January 31, 2022
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has served in his post longer than any other member of the president’s current cabinet. In fact, first appointed in 2014, he has now served in the position longer than any other Turkish politician in the past seventy years. Yet, despite this long involvement, Çavuşoğlu himself is seldom discussed. There are no grand ideas associated with him as there were with his predecessor Ahmet Davutoğlu (2009-2014). Were he to be replaced in a cabinet reshuffle tomorrow, it is unlikely that he would establish a party of his own as Ali Babacan (2007-09) and Davutoğlu have both done. Nonetheless, like his predecessors, Çavuşoğlu embodies his era. Thinking about his time in office can help us reflect on the past decade of AKP foreign policy.
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.