It is too soon to say whether the significant losses faced by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Sunday’s local elections will lead to the end of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reign, but he has been left vulnerable by the country’s economic travails, Guardian journalist Simon Tisdall wrote on Monday.
The preliminary results of the local elections showed significant victories for opposition parties in most of Turkey’s largest cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, both of which had been under AKP control for decades.
These losses amount to the “biggest political shock” in Turkey since the failed coup attempt in 2016, and Erdoğan is likely to adopt similarly repressive measures in the aftermath, Tindall said.
After the July 2016 coup attempt, Erdoğan greatly increased his control over state institutions and increased measures targeting opponents, including state officials, journalists and opposition politicians.
With those powers cemented after the AKP’s success in last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, it is all the more impressive that the opposition managed to gain the top prizes in the election, a feat that will renew hope in Turkish democracy, Tisdall said.
Meanwhile, the elections may not pose a knockout blow for the president, but if Turkey’s economic woes continue this year he could be in trouble, said the journalist.
“Erdoğan’s untutored efforts to block interest rate rises, boost prestige infrastructure spending and ignore rising debt levels have helped propel Turkey into recession, exacerbating currency, inflation and unemployment problems. Rocketing food prices, and shortages of household staples, spell trouble for any politician, anywhere – even a grand Turkish sultan,” he said.