The beginning of the end? Turkish president Erdoğan's worst moments

Erdoğan's governing style has aroused controversy abroad

Jon Stone
Saturday 16 July 2016 12:00
President Erdoğan
President Erdoğan

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has faced a major set-back in his plan to give himself more powers. His AKP party lost its majority in parliament after a surge in support for the Kurdish leftist HDP.

The AKP is still the biggest party in Turkey and most likely to form the next governing, barring further elections and another major upset. But this could be the beginning of the end for Mr Erdoğan’s ambitions of further power and a Turkish presidential republic centred around him.

In recent years Mr Erdoğan has developed a reputation abroad for having an autocratic style of government. Examples often cited include:

Built a £400m palace for himself with taxpayers’ funds

Ak Saray or ‘the white palace’ is the new resident of the Turkish president, build with taxpayers’ funds. Bigger than the White House or Buckingham Palace, it occupies more than 1.6 million square feet of land and cost almost £400 million.

Violence between protesters and police in Turkey

Vowed to “eradicate” Twitter and blocked the whole website in Turkey

Amid protests in 2014 Mr Erdoğan said he would “eradicate” Twitter, adding “I don’t care what the international community says.” The website was then blocked.

He said he was “increasingly against the internet”

The president chose a press freedom conference to announced that he was “increasingly against the Internet every day”. At a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) meeting last year Mr Erdoğan said the internet could be used to recruit terrorists.

Gassed environmentalist protesters demonstrating against the redevelopment of Gezi park

Authorities were widely criticised for their harsh response to an environmental protest to save Istanbul’s Gezi park. Protests were gassed and 11 people were believed to have died as a result of the clashes.

Arrested critical journalists and other opponents in an authoritarian crackdown

Staff members and supporters of the Zaman newspaper editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanli shout slogans as he is arrested by plain clothes police and led towards a car.

Late last year leading figures in the country’s Gülenist opposition movement were rounded up and arrested. Those detained included journalists, television producers, and police officials.

…and then claimed Turkey has the freest press and media in the world

A supporter holds a copy of the Zaman newspaper behind a fence as police arrest its editor-in-chief in Istanbul.

Despite all this Erdoğan still maintains that “nowhere in the world is the press freer than it is in Turkey”. Reporters Without Borders disagrees. The organisation told the Independent at the time: "Turkey ranked 154 out of 180 in our 2014 Press Freedom Index. Its once vibrant and diverse media environment is narrowing by the day.”

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