Democratic Perils and The Changing Turkey

Erdogan’s recent India visit and strategic statements have far reaching short-term as well as long-term impacts especially in developing leadership within influential Islamic Republics. However, in the process he should not weaken democratic institutions and concentrate powers to himself unlike what Saddam, Assad and Gaddafi did. Else, Turkey will be another battlefield.

Democratic Perils and The Changing Turkey

Series of events in recent years in the electoral democratic forms across the globe drive the Western Liberal Democracy into corners particularly in the West or in the Developed World. This started with the United Kingdom and later in the United States clouding all over Europe. The people of countries in the Liberal Democratic world voted against their basic foundations.

The nearest event is in Turkey. However, Erdogan’s marginal win over his opposition will not stop him. He is going to be there for a quite long period of time. But the most dangerous aspect of this marginal win is the destruction of Liberal Turkey by its own people. The wave has already been working in Asia. However, Turkey has been the linking ideological bridge between Asia and Europe particularly after the World War II. This bridge is in danger.

The wave of nation states (nationalism) again starting from Europe is coming out and is likely to dominate the world. It is also a truth that the electoral results have shown a marginal higher support to Brexit or to Trump or to Erdogan. However, the remarkable thing is that they are now running the show. Most surprising is the declaration of the electoral result on the referendum in Turkey for giving more executive power of President. In technical term, an emerging trend of moving out from Parliamentary Democracy to Presidential form of government. In other words, moving from more federal towards more authoritarian. The results of US Presidential Election, Brexit referendum and Turkey referendum have some immediate as well as long lasting impacts.

The immediate impacts are on the Middle East and North Africa. The region with history of turmoil has been in peace for a very short period of time after the World War II. Turkey has been a coloniser in parts of Middle East and North Africa during Ottoman era. Turkey has also been the main contender of the liberal Wests fighting against them in the two World Wars. The conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa can be traced in the conflicts between Ottomans and other colonial powers. Turkish recent involvement in Syria has been both conflicting and aligning in nature in line with the interests of the West.

With strong Erdogan in Turkey, Assad’s regimes in Syria will have direct and immediate impact for which Trump has already congratulated Erdogan after his victory on 16th April, 2017. However, there is a bad news. Erdogan will now treat Kurdish population in an unimaginable and unpredictable manner. Notably, Kurdish population have been ally with the US administration for its war against Saddam and Assad. Trump will have to circumvent Kurdish interests from Erdogan’s games and plans.

Another immediate impact would be on Turkey’s foreign policy priorities. It has been part of Liberal Democratic powers in West and European Union. The domestic positioning of Erdogan is leaning towards religious identity of Turkey with rest of Muslims in the world. His articulation about Islamic Nationalism in Turkey has indicated the direction of its foreign positioning. This is also reflected in recent Erdogan’s jibe on Netherland. It is more likely that Turkey is going to ally with other Muslim countries in Europe and Asia particularly in South Asia tracing a historical links between these countries and Turkey’s Ottoman Empire. Erdogan’s is not only going to symbolise the Ottoman empire’s heritage but also its strength indicating the new era for Turkey in Islamic World, most probably altering the notion with regard to Turkey after Ataturk’s reformation movement.

The long term impact is likely to be on the people of Turkey and on the idea of liberal democracy simultaneously. The regime will last long and Erdogan is going to be next long lasting rulers in the same way, the countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and others. If the popularity rises in the same way, there could be possibility of Turkish president assuming erstwhile positing of Khalifa. In addition, the rising popularity of such figures will also define the future of some parliamentary democracies in the developing world particularly the largest democracy in the world, i.e. India. Support of people to a leader has potential to destroy the democratic institutions through the same electoral process which has been the instrument of establishing Western Liberal Democracy.

Lastly, a suggestion for Erdogan. The case of Saddam, Assad and Gaddafi have been a learning lessons for those who concentrate democratic powers to themselves. If the regime does not transfer rights of the people to them, the dissent will cover like cloud. A powerful regime crushes such dissents. Erdogan should not concentrate powers to himself rather strengthen the democratic institutions. If not, Turkey will be another battlefield.