Followers Fight Back!


Good news out of Turkey!

In today’s national election, the oppressive, repressive president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suffered his biggest setback in 12 years in power. Voters have just denied him his overweening ambition: to rewrite the constitution to establish himself as an all-powerful president. (He was prime minister from 2003 to 2014, and has been president since then.) To be sure, Erdogan’s ruling party won a plurality of the vote. But it lost 8 percentage points since the last election. And the existing numbers are not likely to be sufficient to form a government without entering into a coalition.

In some ways the results of the Turkish election resemble those of other recent ones in Europe, in which followers, voters, have trounced their leaders. In Poland, in spite of President Bronislaw Komorowski’s alliance with the centrist party that has successfully governed the country for the last eight years, he was beaten by a young, right wing upstart, whose main appeal seemed that he was other than the incumbent. Recent elections in Spain and also in Scotland suggest a similar trend – in which voters, especially younger ones, assert their right to be heard either by throwing the incumbents out of office, or by in some other way upending or threatening the status quo.

In Turkey this same voter restiveness is an inordinately welcome development. For anyone with any interest in democratic governance, what’s been happening in Turkey in recent years has been downright disheartening. So Erdogan’s comeuppance is cause for celebration … at least for now.


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