Erdogan’s authoritarian trend

Turkey, the reluctant ally in the fight against IS, turned its gaze inward this week in debating a new “Internal Security Law” that critics claim would come close to turning the country into a police state.Semih Idiz writes, “The most controversial article of the draft law permits police to use firearms against people using Molotov cocktails, or what are loosely defined as ‘similar weapons,’ even when these are only thrown at public buildings.

“Opposition deputies and human rights groups fear this will increase the use of deadly force by the security forces in Turkey, where the police is already criticized for acting with impunity and using excessive force despite legal restrictions. The draft law also foresees a prison sentence of five years for demonstrators wearing balaclavas or covering their faces in other ways.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vigorously supported the law, claiming its passage is essential in defending democracy.

While defending a repressive law by citing democracy may sound contradictory, Erdogan’s statements are best seen as part of his ongoing project to shape public opinion by disputing facts on the ground.

Mustafa Akyol writes that this tendency has manifested itself in the president’s recent crusade against interest rates:

“Erdogan kept pushing for an unusual theory of macroeconomics as well, dictating that high interest rates lead to high inflation. (The established economic theory, as explained here, asserts the opposite: Interest rates and inflation are negatively, not positively, correlated.) But Erdogan insists on his personal theory.”

The cult of Erdogan’s unimpeachable correctness has also had severe consequences for the Justice and Development Party (AKP).Akyol reports, “Success tempted the AKP, prompting it to revert back to its Islamism and initiate a much more ambitious narrative of building a new regional order, and even a new global order. Meanwhile, Erdogan turned into an unquestionable leader who is not limited by facts and creates his own facts, as envisioned by his Islamist ideology and extraordinary intuition. In the eyes of his hard-core supporters, he is not a mere political leader who formulates pragmatic policies. He is a total leader who redefines everything.”

Erogan is not completely unchallenged, however, as tensions have emerged with leaders of his own party.

Amberin Zaman writes that the resignation of Turkey’s spy chief, Hakan Fidan, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s reluctance to play a diminished role, have ignited wild speculation: “After 13 years in power, is the AKP beginning to crack? Might Erdogan be losing his grip? Many demand to know.”

Zaman reports that the beginnings of a crack may not be enough to unseat Erdogan: “Davutoglu and Fidan have stolen a march on the president, yet their success is in no way guaranteed.”
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