Erdogan’s victory in Turkey shows the world can’t give up political strongmen

Biden's win over Trump and the removal of Brazil's Bolsanaro had suggested a sea change, writes Kim Sengupta. But from China and Egypt to Hungary, Russia and Turkey, authoritarian leaders are still making waves

Thursday 01 June 2023 09:36 BST
<p>Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of his election win</p>

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of his election win

The rate of inflation in Turkey is 44 per cent and the number of those employed is the lowest among the OECD’s 38 countries at 53 per cent. The lira is at a record low against the dollar. And the opposition candidate came within 4 per cent of winning the presidency. But the figures that count are that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has extended his two decades in power by another five years.

The pollsters and analysts had predicted that this time, at long last, Erdogan could be beaten. His chief rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, got to the second round in voting, and major cities remained in the hands of the president’s opponents. But, in the end, the majority of Turkey’s conservative electorate chose to stick with the veteran autocrat.

Erdogan’s victory is not an isolated case internationally. Not so long ago, following Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden, Benjamin Netanyahu’s removal as prime minister in Israel and the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, there was talk that the age of the strongman was over.

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