Timing in Turkey

Timing in Turkey

Earlier this spring, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a big bet on timing — moving up his country’s general elections by 16 months to June 24th, he reasoned, would make it easier to lock in a fresh mandate before a slowing economy and growing opposition complicated things.


Given his broad influence over the media and the courts, as well as the emergency decrees that he’s used since a failed 2016 coup to silence or marginalize opposition figures, Erdogan and his AKP party, who’ve been in power since 2003, are still the electoral favorites. But this election’s not quite the shoo-in that it might once have seemed.

For one thing, Erdogan’s policies have recently thrown the Turkish currency into a tailspin that has raised questions about his ability to continue delivering economic growth. The international creditors who’ve helped fuel Turkey’s economic boom don’t like the country’s rising inflation. But the central bank has long been under pressure from Erdogan to keep interest rates low to benefit the small businesses that make up a key part of his political base. Investors’ patience for Erdogan’s meddling has started to fray recently.

At the same time, Turkey’s beleaguered opposition has been surprisingly unified. Large and small parties have joined together to increase their chances of gaining seats in parliament, and the leading presidential challengers, the fiery nationalist Meral Aksener and Muharrem Ince, a largely secular politician of humble origins who has made inroads with Erdogan’s base, have pledged to support each other if either makes it to a second round against Erdogan. That could pose a stiff challenge for him.

Over the past year, there have been several cases when world leaders tried to time elections to their advantage, only to see things blow up in their faces — we’ve got Malaysia’s Najib Razak, Britain’s Theresa May, and Italy’s Matteo Renzi on line two. While Turkey’s strongman Erdogan is still in a much more commanding position than most, June 24th can’t come soon enough. ​

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

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Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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