ref:topbtw-3106.html/ 2 Ottobre 2021/A
Erdogan: ma quando verrà mandato in pensione ? La salute inizia a vacillare ?
Evidence is growing that Turkey's president is ailing-and that could be bad news for the country's politics.
Since 2019, Turkey experts, journalists, and pollsters have been eyeing the Turkish general election scheduled
This is probably because the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered humiliating defeats of
its mayoral candidates in Turkey's major population centers, including Istanbul, in the 2019 local elections.
Regular polling since those elections reveal that the AKP's popularity is soft, even as it maintains a grip on
Turkey's political institutions and the media. Anecdotally, it seems that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has worn out his welcome, especially among young people.
Erdogan may indeed be vulnerable ahead of 2023-just not necessarily in the way most people think.
There are signs he may be too ill to run for reelection at all.
In recent months, a series of videos have surfaced in which the Turkish leader has not looked well.
Some of them are not as clear as others, but, taken together, they raise some obvious questions about Erdogan's health.
In one clip, for example, the president appears to need the assistance of his wife and an aid as he negotiates a set
of stairs. In another, he seems to shuffle and have some difficulty walking at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Turkey's
founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
And, in a video that received considerable attention this past July, Erdogan seems to fade out and slur
his words during a televised holiday greeting to AKP members.
At times, he has looked quite gaunt. In tandem with this footage are rumors about
the president's health-including stories alleging he has been dealing with increasing forgetfulness, bouts of breathing
problems, confusion, vomiting, and the implantation of an internal defibrillator.
According to these same accounts, the president has increased the number of doctors around him, reduced encounters
with the press, and is being pumped up with painkillers before public events.
Of course, these rumors are most often repeated by people outside of Turkey or more than a few steps removed from
the president's inner circle, so the allegations of Erdogan's coming demise might just be idle chatter.
After all, in other videos, he has seemed perfectly fine. When he appeared on Face the Nation on Sept. 26, he looked
perhaps not as vigorous as he once was, but he is 67-not old, but not young-and has been in power for more than 18 years,
which has to take a toll.
It is never a good idea to make medical judgments from afar, especially if one is not a physician.
But let's suspend judgement for a moment and play out a thought experiment:
What if Erdogan is quite ill?
What happens if either by illness or death he cannot stand for reelection in 2023?
According to Article 106 of the Turkish Constitution, Vice President Fuat Oktay would assume the responsibilities and
powers that Erdogan now possesses until an election can be held (in 45 days) and a new president is sworn in.
That is pretty straightforward and standard.
Turkey analysts have long assumed that in a post-Erdogan Turkey, the AKP
would split off in ways that would open a pathway to a competitive election that could be won by any one of Turkey's
major opposition politicians. Perhaps it could be Ekrem Imamoglu, who defeated a former AKP prime minister (twice) to
become mayor of Istanbul.
His counterpart in Ankara, Mansur Yavas, is a formidable politician. And then there is Meral Aksener, leader of
the Good Party, with a reputation for being tough as nails.
There are reasonable scenarios in which Imamoglu, Yavas, or Aksener becomes Turkey's next president, but the
assumption underlying any of their victories is the return to so-called normal politics after Erdogan.
It is possible, but there are grounds for skepticism. First, it should be clear by now that Erdogan, through the AKP,
has either hollowed out or bent Turkey's political institutions to his will.
In this context, it is hard to imagine that an election organized in 45 days could be free and fair.
Second, and of more consequence, is the fact that during Erdogan's two-decade-long tenure, people within the AKP's
inner circle have grown wealthy and powerful, often through questionable means and practices.
It seems unlikely that officials, businesspeople, media personalities, and others would so readily risk their gains by
submitting themselves to the uncertainty of more democratic politics.
Under these circumstances, it is worth considering the possibility that another strongman could rule a post-Erdogan Turkey,
perhaps under a state of emergency.
Among the more powerful figures in Turkey, besides Erdogan, are intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, Minister of National
Defense Hulusi Akar, and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. Of the three, Akar seems best positioned to assume leadership.
Fidan is well known to Turks, but he operates mostly behind the closed doors of the National Intelligence Organization.
Soylu is damaged goods after a Turkish mafia don named Sedat Peker suggested that the interior minister was corrupt and
in bed with organized crime in a series of YouTube videos posted in recent months.
Akar also has an advantage over Fidan or Soylu that neither of them could match:
the armed forces. Analysts have tended to discount the role of the military in Turkish politics since reforms in 2003 and 2004 brought the armed forces under civilian control.
The failed coup of 2016-during which large numbers of Turks, regardless of their politics, rejected a return to
the military tutelage system, combined with subsequent purges of the officer corps-seemed to have broken the will
of commanders to play a role in politics.
Yet Akar, the chief of staff during the attempted putsch and later a minister of national defense,
has played the central role in reshaping the armed forces after July 2016 that may place the military
in a position to play a political role again… in support of Akar.
( GAGRULE -S.A. Cook )