Jun 26 2018

Liberal democracy’s flaws, not voters, to be blamed for Erdoğan victory - Guardian

Populism is becoming the norm across many eastern European states, characterised by personal rule, xenophobia and the suppression of parliamentary and media opposition, with Erdoğan re-election as president in Turkey Sunday’s polls being a manifestation of this trend, wrote Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins.

Erdoğan, who has been in power for 16 years, takes up wide-ranging executive powers in the country’s new presidential system following Sunday’s elections, in which he received 53 percent of the vote and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and their far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies secured a majority in parliament.

‘’There is no point in simply deploring Erdoğan and, by implication, insulting his electorate. Europe now faces two populist (and ostensibly popular) autocrats, Erdoğan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, across its eastern frontier. They are matched by similar “strong-man” leaders in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Serbia,’’ Jenkins wrote.

If western Europe simply hurl abuses at this trend, it will exacerbate it, the article states, noting that faith in democracy among the west’s young people is plummeting.

‘’The currently fashionable “death of democracy” movement draws attention to the failure of electorates to vote for the liberal/internationalist programme – hence Trump, Brexit and anti-immigrant parties in Italy, France and Germany. But the fault, if fault it is, lies not with the voters but with the institutions that are failing to respond to their demands. If the traditional vehicles of public debate – political parties, the media, academics – do not hear them, they will turn to leaders who do,’’ Jenkins noted.

According to the Guardian article, the real message of the Turkish election is that there is nothing inevitable about a mature democracy. Democracy needs constant refreshment by  updating parliaments and parties; liberating local government and defending pluralism in media.