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.
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.
An opposition victory in Turkey’s elections on May 14 could open a window of opportunity to build a friendlier relationship between Turkey and its partners in NATO and the EU. Yet when it comes to Ankara’s relationship with the EU, there is another election this May that could prove as decisive: Greece’s elections on May 21.