Dem 51
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More of the Same for Turkey

The people of Turkey headed to the polls this weekend to choose their next president. And it turns out it will be... their current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The general election votes for the far-right but anti-Erdoğan candidate, Sinan Oğan, basically split between the two runoff candidates. Since Erdoğan was already on the precipice of victory after round one, picking up half of Oğan's votes was enough, with the result that he defeated Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, 52.18% to 47.82%.

The election was not exactly a shining example of democracy in action (not to say that American elections are shining examples these days, either). Turnout was high (84%) and foreign observers agree that all the votes were counted. However, Erdoğan controls the broadcast media in Turkey. Imagine if every channel was Fox and every radio station was... well, Fox, and you get the idea. That left Kılıçdaroğlu to campaign through social media and other alternative means.

Further, in order to dissuade poor Turkish voters from paying too much attention to disastrous inflation (85%) or to the damage wrought by major earthquakes, Erdoğan lavished government money upon the populace in the past several months. In other words, he effectively bought people's votes. It does not appear that Erdoğan actually has a viable plan to get the Turkish economy on the right track, and the spending he did prior to the election is unsustainable. So, the poor people of Turkey are likely in for a rocky ride in the next year or two.

Erdoğan presumably doesn't care about that since he's now locked up a term that runs until 2028. In theory, that will be it for him, as there are term limits built into the Turkish constitution. That said, the President was theoretically term-limited this time out, and that didn't do much to stop him. Erdoğan tends to agree with his good friend Vladmir Putin that term limits are so... limiting. So, don't assume Erdoğan is done being president until he actually leaves the presidential palace and someone else is sworn in.

Given that Erdoğan is close with Putin, and given that his regime is rather oppressive, Joe Biden undoubtedly was rooting for Kılıçdaroğlu to win. But one of the devil's bargains that comes with being president is that you have to deal with a lot of people you don't much care for. And while the President presumably doesn't much like his Turkish counterpart, they are still able to work together when needed. That said, you can perceive the lack of enthusiasm in the tweet Biden sent out after the Turkish election results were announced:

Congratulations to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Türkiye on his re-election.

I look forward to continuing to work together as NATO Allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges.

Note that Türkiye is the preferred spelling announced by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it's used by diplomatic partners (e.g., the U.S. government). However, it has not become AP style, and is not generally used by non-diplomatic folks, including us. This is basically a consistency thing; if Turkey gets to be Türkiye, then Germany should be Deutschland, Japan should be 日本, and Canada should be, well, still Canada.

Now that Turkey has made its choice, the elections calendar—both nationally and internationally—is pretty bare for the next few months. Summer is, for various reasons, not the best time to hold elections. (Z)

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