Is Erdogan Finished?

This was published by Carnegie Europe in response to the question Is ErdoganT Finished?

The post-Erdoğan era of Turkish politics has begun. That is because the country’s prime minister is falling victim to the “rule of ten”: after ten years in power, no one can run a major country any longer.

In a remarkable parallel to what is happening now in Turkey, France’s postwar president Charles de Gaulle had a ten-year stint in power from 1958 to 1968 before hitting the events of May 1968—a mixture of students, post-proletarian workers, trade unions, and anyone who just couldn’t stand de Gaulle’s domineering figure any longer.

Like de Gaulle, Erdoğan tries to dominate the media—though, unlike de Gaulle, he may not be able to rely on the army, which has so far been strangely silent in this crisis. Like de Gaulle, Erdoğan has presided over strong economic growth and the creation of an open-market bourgeoisie. That will keep him in power for a time, but not indefinitely. And just as de Gaulle cut France’s Gordian knot over Algeria, Erdoğan appears to be ready to make peace with the Kurds and talk to the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

The current demonstrations show that Istanbul and other Turkish cities resemble the European capitals that gave rise to big social protest movements in the last half century. Turkey is not on its way to becoming another Syria, Egypt, or Iran—at least, let’s hope not.

The rule of ten applies to everybody. The UK’s Margaret Thatcher, Germany’s Helmut Kohl, and France’s François Mitterrand all faced major political opposition after a decade in power—as have Russia’s Vladimir Putin and now Erdoğan. How sensible of the Americans to limit their chief executive to just eight years at the top.

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