Skip to comments.What Turkey’s Riots Mean - The rise of Islamism can continue only if the economy weathers the...
Posted on 06/24/2013 6:58:16 PM PDT by neverdem
The rise of Islamism can continue only if the economy weathers the demonstrations.
Rebellion has shaken Turkey since May 31. Is it comparable to the Arab upheavals that have overthrown four rulers since 2011; to Irans Green Movement of 2009, which led to an apparent reformers being elected president last week; or perhaps to Occupy Wall Street, which had negligible consequences?
The unrest marks a deeply important development with permanent implications. Turkey has become a more open and liberal country, and its leaders face democratic constraints as never before. But how much this unrest will be able to change the role of Islam in Turkey depends primarily on the economy.
That impressive growth explains the AKPs increased share of the national vote from 34 percent (2002) to 46 percent (2007) to a shade under 50 percent (2011). Turkeys growth also explains how, after 90 years of the militarys serving as the ultimate political power, the party was able to bring the armed forces to heel.
At the same time, two vulnerabilities that jeopardize Erdogans continued domination of the government have become more evident, especially since the June 2011 elections.
The first is dependence on foreign credit. To sustain consumer spending, Turkish banks have borrowed heavily abroad, and especially from supportive Sunni Muslim sources. The resulting current-account deficit creates so great a need for credit that the private sector alone needs to borrow $221 billion in 2013, or nearly 30 percent of the countrys $775 billion GDP. Should the money stop flowing into Turkey, the party (pun intended) is over, possibly causing the stock market to collapse, the currency to plunge, and the economic miracle to come to a screeching halt.
The second is Erdogans sultan-like understanding of his democratic mandate. The prime minister sees his election victories especially the one in 2011, when the AKP won half the popular vote as carte blanche to do whatever he pleases until the next vote. He indulges his personal emotions (recall his confrontation with Shimon Peres in 2009), meddles in the tiniest matters (his deciding the use of a city park prompted the current turmoil), engages in social engineering (telling married couples to bear three or more children), involves Turkey in an unpopular foreign adventure (Syria), and demonizes the half of the electorate that did not vote for him (calling them beer-guzzlers who copulate in a mosque). This attitude has won the fervent support of his once-downtrodden constituency, but also has wrought the fury of the growing numbers of Turks who resent his authoritarianism, as well as drawn the criticism of Europes leaders. German chancellor Angela Merkel pronounced herself appalled by the recent police crackdown.
These two weaknesses point to the importance of the economy for the future of Erdogan, the AKP, and the country. Should Turkeys finances weather the demonstrations, the Islamist program that lies at the heart of the AKPs platform will continue to advance, if more cautiously. Perhaps Erdogan himself will remain leader, becoming the countrys president with newly enhanced powers next year; or perhaps his party will tire of him and as happened to Margaret Thatcher in 1990 push him aside in favor of someone who can carry out the same program without provoking so much hostility.
But if hot money flees Turkey, if foreign investors go elsewhere, and if Persian Gulf patrons cool on the AKP, then the demonstrations could end AKP rule and rupture the drive toward Islamism and the application of Islamic law. Infighting within the party, especially between Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, or within the Islamist movement, especially between the AKP and Fethullah Gulens powerful movement, could weaken the Islamists. More profound, the many non-Islamist voters who voted for the AKPs sound economic stewardship might abandon the party.
Payroll employment is down by 5 percent in the past year. Real consumer spending in the first quarter of 2013 fell by 2 percent over 2012. Since the demonstrations started, the Istanbul stock market is down 10 percent and interest rates are up about 50 percent. To assess the future of Islamism in Turkey, watch these and other economic indicators.
Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Me no get. But the girls are hot.
I thought Turkey had a constitutional mandate for the military to intervene in the event the government was about to become non-secular.
What happened to that?
Maybe the same thing that happened to our Bill of Rights?
Somebody wasn’t eternally vigilant?
Hopefully it kills their EU chances.
They are, during the Olympics I ogled their volleyball team.
” many non-Islamist voters who voted for the AKPs sound economic stewardship might abandon the party.”
My readings suggest that the party’s economic stewardship has NOT been sound. Any experts on Turkey here?
Erdogan effectively neutered the military, cashiering or indicting a lot of the senior officers last year.
To sustain consumer spending, Turkish banks have borrowed heavily abroad, and especially from supportive Sunni Muslim sources. The resulting current-account deficit creates so great a need for credit that the private sector alone needs to borrow $221 billion in 2013, or nearly 30 percent of the countrys $775 billion GDP. Should the money stop flowing into Turkey, the party (pun intended) is over, possibly causing the stock market to collapse, the currency to plunge, and the economic miracle to come to a screeching halt.
Erdogan’s an Islamist, but Turkey remains a democracy — and that is incompatible with Islam. Erdogan’s not evil enough.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
They have us surrounded, the poor Fallible and Uninspired bastards.
>>But the girls are hot.
And not wearing burqas, yet. Which is maybe a good sign.
Sometimes I fear a world economy is a really bad idea...
Oh golly ... those are scary economic details.
Mr. Daniel Pipes - Rise of Political Islam