TODAY’S – US think tank: ErdoIan sacrificed democracy for tighter grip on power

US think tank: ErdoIan sacrificed democracy for tighter grip on powerA US-based think tank has said in a newly released report that andldquoembattledandrdquo President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan andldquohas sacrificed democratic development and the rule of law to strengthen his grip on powerandrdquoThe Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington-based think tank, released a report on Friday titled andldquoFragile or Favored? Prospects for Turkeyand#39s Economy in 2015,andrdquo which discusses President ErdoIanand#39s gradual slide toward authoritarianism — especially following a wave of protests and the emergence of damning corruption allegations in 2013 — as well as the countryand#39s economic forecast.andldquoFaced with widespread protests in May and June of 2013 and a large-scale corruption probe in December 2013, the embattled ErdoIan has sacrificed democratic development and the rule of law to strengthen his grip on power,andrdquo the report says.

The Gezi Park protests, the largest in the nationand#39s history, erupted at end of May 2013 over government plans to destroy a park located in the Taksim district of Istanbul and build Ottoman-style military barracks in its place. The protest then spread across the nation and attracted worldwide media coverage, eliciting criticism from many of Turkeyand#39s Western allies, including the US and the European Union.

The BPC report also states that Turkey has seen andldquoattacks on freedom of speech, judicial independence, and rule of law.andrdquo Such attacks, the report says, have also had economic consequences, andldquostriking at the heart of the political and economic stability that have formed the base of ErdoIanand#39s political support.

andrdquoUnderlining that the immediate causes of Turkeyand#39s economic success have largely been external and thus have allowed the government andldquoto focus on promoting short-term benefits while putting off structural reforms needed for longer-term development,andrdquo the BPC report states that it finds Turkeyand#39s economic prospects andldquoincreasingly shakyandrdquo due to rising inflation, fiscal expenditures and overall debt.The report also states that corruption, rising authoritarianism and restrictions on expression are chronic issues in Turkey that cannot be ignored.

Such problems, it says, will ultimately force Turkey to face the consequences of increasing political illiberalismThe report also says ErdoIanand#39s pressure on the Central Bank of Turkey to lower interest has made a meltdown in the long term andldquomore likely.andrdquoandldquoIt is such actions that expose what we identify as the central threat to Turkeyand#39s economy: political risk,andrdquo the report continued.

Claiming that high interest rates are tantamount to treason, ErdoIan said earlier this month that the governor of the central bank and the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy needed to andquotshape up.andquot The president also slammed the central bank governor, Erdem BaII, for not taking precautions against a possible increase in the exchange rate.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman