Erdoğan running Turkey as one-man show - Merve Tahiroğlu

In the last few months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has grown more autocratic than ever and has been running the country as a one-man show, Merve Tahiroğlu, Project on Middle East Democracy’s (POMED) Turkey director, said in a podcast with Ahval.

“While Erdoğan’s electorate is moving further and further away from him,” Tahiroğlu told Ahval editor-in-chief Yavuz Baydar, “he is grabbing more and more onto power, making unilateral moves and using domestic controversies to try to shore up his own support.”

According to Tahiroğlu, the declaration issued by ex-navy admirals regarding the Montreux Convention came into the heart of Turkish politics. “The way Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention on women’s rights raised the question of what else could he do with regards to Turkey’s international commitments.”

A total of 103 retired admirals from the Turkish navy published a declaration last week, denouncing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for opening up for discussion the Montreux Convention and for the Islamisation of the army over an active-service rear admiral’s visit to the leader of an extreme religious sect.

“It is met with concern that the Montreux Convention is opened up for discussion within the framework of both Kanal Istanbul and who has the authority to annul international treaties,” the admirals said in their declaration.

“This is sort of a combination of those instances seen particularly in the last three months, appointing a new rector to Boğaziçi University by a presidential decree which many people saw as a hostile take-over attempt of a very important academic institution, pulling Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, trying to shut down the second largest opposition party in parliament and so on,” Tahiroğlu said.

This is coming in a time when Erdoğan’s popularity is at its lowest and he is facing a popularity crisis, particularly over the country’s economy, she said.

However, despite some of the recent pollsters’ figures still showing public support for Erdoğan, Tahiroğlu thinks a long-term approach is necessary to read the polls, because Erdoğan is a master of using crises, conflicts or wars to boost this support in short-term.

“Turkey is not a static country and I personally hope that one day Turkish opposition will be able to respond to Erdoğan’s tricks and won’t let him to go away with them,” she said.