Turkey is holding a historic election on Sunday.
For 20 years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held power in Turkey. Yet this time, he may be voted out, as we’ve previous reported, as some have said he’s in real trouble in this election from an opponent. Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who leads the Republican People’s Party, heads one of six parties that joined in opposition to Erdogan. Some polls have had Kemal Kilicdaroglu ahead. That would be a huge and positive change for Turkey.
How do we know that Erdogan thinks he might lose? Here’s a big clue. He’s just authorized that 3,000 administrators get paid for the next two years, even though they will likely be out the door.
Team Erdoğan sees the writing on the wall. So it’s preparing for the post-Erdoğan Era. Barring the unexpected, about 3000 Erdoğan-appointed administrators will be out of a job on Monday morning. Erdoğan just decreed that they will continue to get paid for two more years. pic.twitter.com/ryrr6nWfGv— Timur Kuran (@timurkuran) May 12, 2023
Even if he loses, that may not settle the question.
That outcome is far from guaranteed. Erdo?an has built-in advantages, including control of the media and state resources. He retains a staunch base of supporters loyal to him and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). And this is a leader who’s spent the past 20 years in power, and purged his perceived political opponents from government and judicial institutions. He has built up systems of cronyism and patronage that have benefited him and his allies — leaving him and the AKP exposed if out of power.
Which means Erdo?an could still win this election outright. And if he loses, it’s another question entirely whether he’ll go away quietly.
Erdogan strengthened the power of the presidency and turned himself into a “strongman,” doing things like cracking down on independent media.
But inflation sits at 40 percent in Turkey, and people are struggling. That adds up to bad news for Erdogan.
We will know the answer soon on whether the people will vote Erdogan out.
But on the eve of the election, a big question has come out on Twitter regarding free speech.
Twitter announced, “In response to legal process and to ensure Twitter remains available to the people of Turkey, we have taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey today.”
In Turkey, they don’t have the same laws as the United States when it comes to speech, and there’s more oppression of the media. So, Twitter either has to comply with the law or be booted altogether from the country.
Now, you had a lot of people on both sides of the argument: that Twitter still shouldn’t comply, if they truly care about speech vs. the people trying to communicate potentially have nothing else, if the law then shuts you down. It’s an important question that is going to keep coming up, as not all laws are expansive as ours are supposed to be.
You had some on the left like liberal columnist Matt “Matty” Yglesias taking a shot at Twitter and Elon Musk, for not standing up for free speech, even though Turkey doesn’t have the same guarantees that we have in this country.
The thing that’s hilarious about this is that the left didn’t give a darn about how Twitter 1.0 was suppressing conservatives or the suppression of things like the Hunter Biden laptop, because it helped their side and their liberal narrative. Now suddenly here you have Yglesias supposedly caring about what the Twitter Files might say. That’s a bit of a laugh.
Musk wasn’t sitting down for this, and he let Yglesias have it.
“Did your brain fall out of your head, Yglesias?” Musk shot back. “The choice is have Twitter throttled in its entirety or limit access to some tweets. Which one do you want?”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2023
Yglesias tried to back off and say he wasn’t taking the shot he was trying to take.
Matty wants you to do nothing and in return Turkish people have ZERO access to twitter when government censors it in response. Real galaxy brain stuff. Turkey isn’t the US. I think most understand you can’t do the same there that you’d do here. Pragmatism = keep as much access to…— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 13, 2023
But this is a bigger question that affects us all. It’s why we have to fight so hard on the question — so we’re not left in the position that Turkey is. It’s why with a new Twitter CEO, we need to keep a sharp eye out to continue to ensure that we don’t slip back to Twitter 1.0.