Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a good autocrat who cannot be kept down and has decided that voters want more of the same, despite losing the latest election and an economic crisis, Bloomberg Opinion Editor Bobby Ghosh said on Thursday.
Ghosh said in a Bloomberg column that Erdogan first seemed softened after the second defeat in the Istanbul mayoral election. He said this was displayed when he told lawmakers of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) that they did “not have the luxury of turning a deaf ear and ignoring the messages given by the people.”
He, however, later changed his mind, deciding that Turks want more of the same, according to Ghosh.
The editor further said Erdogan’s dismissal of the governor of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (TCMB), Murat Cetinkaya last week for refusing to cut interest rates which was his “eccentric theory” to help inflation fall.
He suggested that the newly appointed governor, Murat Uysal, will have to do what Erdogan orders in order to keep the job. He said this would be so even if the order would yield to “a hammering for the lira and to deepen the economic crisis” as was the case in the economic collapses in Latin American countries.
The columnist also emphasized a possible devastation for the Turkish economy to be triggered by US sanctions over Turkey’s decision to buy Russian S-400 missile-defense systems. He also referred to a row between the US and Turkey over jailed American Pastor Andrew Brunson which last year prompted a severe sell-off of the Turkish lira that pushed it to an all-time low against the US dollar. This led to Turkey to experience its second economic recession under Erdogan’s rule.
Erdogan believes Turkey will not be subjected to US sanctions, going as far as providing assurance from US President Donald Trump at the G20 Summit in Osaka.
Ghosh however, said Trump did not specifically eliminate the possibility of sanctions in his speech and the State Department has since then repeated its threat to punish Turkey if it purchases the S-400s.
Ghosh said “Erdogan’s weakened aura of invincibility” following the AKP’s loss in the Istanbul election encouraged critics within the AKP.
Last week Ali Babacan, former economy minister announced his resignation from AKP over “deep differences” with the party’s direction saying that Turkey needed a new vision.
Once a close ally to Erdogan and an AKP co-founder, Babacan this year plans to form a rival political party together with Turkey’s former President Abdullah Gul, according to Turkish political circles.
AKP’s former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is also on the same way after falling out with Erdogan in 2016 and criticized AKP policies a week after the Istanbul election.
Ghosh claimed that Babacan’s defection was potentially the most damaging for Erdogan since he steered the country out of an economic crisis during the 2002-2007 period and he was therefore a credible figure.
Babacan, as well as Davutoglu was especially critical of last year’s decision by Erdogan to appoint his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, as treasury and finance minister.
“That appointment rattled investors’ confidence in Erdogan’s management of the economy,” said Ghosh.