How Recep Tayyip Erdogan Held onto the Turkish Presidency Despite a Faltering Economy

Last month, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reelected president of Turkey, a position he has held since 2014. The race was a close one in which no candidate won a majority of the votes, necessitating an unprecedented runoff that delivered the victory to the incumbent. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak explains how Erdogan outmaneuvered his main opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu:

In retrospect, the 2023 elections will be remembered as the most challenging general elections for Erdogan’s political survival. The deteriorating economy, the devaluation of the Turkish lira vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar, the high cost of living, and the mishandling of the February 6 earthquake disaster—which claimed more than 50,000 lives—all significantly risked Erdogan’s chances of winning.

Thus, in order not to waste a single vote, Erdogan had no choice but to work on [expanding his multiparty coalition, known as CI]. This act of survival paved the way for the CI to include controversial radical Islamist parties such as the legal wing of the Turkish [branch of the] Hizballah terrorist organization, the Free Cause Party.

In the other camp, seizing all the abovementioned [factors militating against Erdogan] as a historic political opportunity, the secular Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu forcibly rallied the Turkish opposition around his leadership, believing that this time he had a real chance to defeat Erdogan. Despite this assumption, in retrospect the serious dispute and disagreement among the six party leaders around Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy [projected] a very negative, unstable, chaotic, and inefficient image that led the Turkish constituency to fear a potentially unstable future if [his coalition] were to win.

Apart from the lack of charisma perhaps, Kilicdaroglu’s most important vulnerability was his Alevi identity. The Alevi faith is a heterodox Islamic belief system which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam. . . . Seeing this element in his identity as a serious obstacle, Kilicdaroglu decided to present himself as Turkey’s Barack Obama—a minority leader who deserves to break through the glass ceiling imposed by the majority. [But] Turkey is not the United States and Kemal Kilicdaroglu is not Barack Obama.

Read more at Moshe Dayan Center

More about: Barack Obama, Hizballah, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey


Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain