The world has been rocked by news of a devastating earthquake in Turkey and northwestern Syria. With thousands of people dead, injured, or trapped beneath the rubble, the full scope of the disaster is still unfolding. In the midst of the tragedy, the world has been watching the response of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the most influential leader in the history of the Turkish republic since its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the implications of the disaster for Erdogan’s political future and the fate of Turkey’s democracy. We’ll look at the government’s response so far, the criticism it has faced, and the potential long-term effects of the disaster on Erdogan’s image and the Turkish people’s faith in the state.
Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 affected provinces and has allocated more than $5 billion to support state emergency and relief operations. But his government has been met with criticism over the apparent difficulties or failures that have beset the relief operations. Political analysts have suggested that Erdogan is trying to get ahead of possible political blowback by personally overseeing the response.
Soner Cagaptay, Turkey scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has said that the next 48 hours will be definitive for Erdogan’s career. If his government can’t accelerate relief efforts and rescue large numbers of people soon, he could be in genuine political trouble.
The 1999 earthquake in Turkey exposed the shoddy, lax construction standards of many Turkish buildings, as well as the sclerotic ineptitude of the Turkish state. It also paved the way for Erdogan’s more religiously minded movement to come to power, as people desired change and effective government. Now, the government’s response to the current disaster could have long-term implications for Erdogan’s image and the Turkish people’s faith in the state.
The disaster could also offer Erdogan a chance for a reset on the world stage, easing some tensions with various Western countries. But at home, he may end up fighting an uphill battle.
In this blog post, we’ve explored the implications of the current disaster for Erdogan’s political future and the fate of Turkey’s democracy. We’ve looked at the government’s response so far, the criticism it has faced, and the potential long-term effects of the disaster on Erdogan’s image and the Turkish people’s faith in the state. As the recovery begins, the trauma of the moment may dictate Erdogan’s political fate.