On June 17, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced as illegitimate the ongoing protest march from the Turkish capital, Ankara, to Istanbul, organized to demand justice regarding Erdogan’s media crackdown and led by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, as it’s also known. He has even threatened that Kemal Kilicdaroglu, CHP’s head, could be detained. And he has already arrested Selahattin Demirtas, the head of Kurdish nationalist Peoples’ Democracy Party, or HDP, the third largest faction in the Turkish legislature after his Justice and Development Party, widely known as AKP, and CHP, writes Soner Cagaptay, the director of The Washington Institute’s Turkish Research Program.
Erdogan, a divisive, right-wing politician, has realized that he cannot continue to govern the country the way he likes so long as it is democratic and is therefore taking steps to end Turkish democracy. Since coming to power through his reformed-Islamist AKP in 2003, Erdogan has gradually become more autocratic. He has accomplished this by playing the “authoritarian underdog,” as I explain in The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey. Building on the narrative that Islamists were persecuted under Turkey’s past secularist system, Erdogan now portrays himself as a victim who is grudgingly forced to suppress those conspiring to undermine his authority. RTWT