During the final stages of Turkey’s elections, many observers pointed to distant moments from the country’s history to explain its contemporary political conflicts. One more recent event was particularly crucial to reinforcing the social polarization tearing at Turkish society today: the military coup of September 1980.
EU officials are still digesting the result of Turkey’s general election, which saw the presidential race head to a second-round runoff. While President Erdogan’s antagonism toward Europe has won him few friends in Brussels, many are also wondering if the runoff might present a case of “better the devil you know.”
Turkey’s election results came as a disappointment not only to Turkish voters who wanted to bring an end to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20 years of increasingly autocratic rule. They also dashed the hopes of many outside observers that Turkey would become one of the countries where the global drift to autocracy begins to reverse.
For the past 20 years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shaped Turkey’s domestic politics and foreign policy. But in Sunday’s presidential election, he faces his greatest electoral challenge yet. The opposition is united, and Turkey’s economy is flagging. Perhaps most importantly, Erdogan has lost his aura of invincibility.