Not only pundits in Western media, but also the power elite of the Middle Eastern media like to speak in $50 words. Now that his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is marking its 16th anniversary, and he has been president for a full three years, all the bigwigs have increased the dollar value of their choice words:
Erdoğan went from liberalism to celebrating a carnival of pluralism.
Turkish referendum victory could backfire for Erdoğan.
How Erdoğan lost the liberals.
How Erdoğan Made Turkey Authoritarian Again.
Erdoğan Is Dividing Turkey Against Itself.
When you start to answer the how part of the questions such as how Erdoğan made Turkey authoritarian again, the very basic premise, whether Erdoğan really made Turkey authoritarian again, needs no elucidation. It goes without saying. Anybody who tries to emulate the intellectual trend that is fashionable these days dare not ask such elementary questions: If we say Erdoğan has lost liberals, he must have lost liberals. All you need to know is how he did it.
When something is a trending in social and intellectual circles, anybody employing these words in articles cannot be questioned. For instance, the person who was explaining how Erdoğan lost liberals was not familiar with who these liberals were. It is written as if there is some authority on identifying liberals and non-liberals on the Turkish political scene. Did he really loose liberals? All of them? Some of them? No, all these questions simply make one look ignorant of Turkish politics.
Recently, an expert on Turkey was asking from his high pedestal if Erdoğan could go back to his liberal policies. When one posits a question like one assumes that Erdoğan left liberal policies and is now following illiberal policies. Can he? No, of course he cannot. Even if one benevolently grants him the ability to correct his route from illiberalism back to liberalism, the point is made. Anybody trying to counter the argument is actually rick-rolling as the British would say. He would be pointlessly arguing whether he can or he cannot when you had your ilk believe that Erdoğan had strayed away and now we are graciously trying to bring him back to your right path.
Could you please, I beg you, show us a liberal reform Erdoğan and his ruling party initiated, enacted and implemented, yet rescinded later? The age-old ban on using the Kurdish language is still there. Armenian and Greek exiles of the Republican People's Party (CHP) years are coming back to reclaim their property. Turkey expressed its regrets about the terrible events of the Armenian and Greek deportations and killings. Nobody is now being deprived of their civil liberties because of their lifestyle based on their conscience. Nobody waits in line to get his or her grievances redressed in a timely manner. Yes, city hall is a little crowded because of the number of people the district attorney has been squeezing in. After all, tens of thousands of people were sacked from the civil service after the coup attempt. If those people can show an example of a coup attempt in a country where tanks rolled on the streets, fighter jets shot at people on the ground and they had fewer defendants when the people captured the culprits, perhaps we would know if the number is too high in Turkey. And, oh yes, the government declared a state of emergency after the coup attempt.
The author of these lines and many others who are observing Turkish politics closely could attest that unless you are somewhat related with the coup and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) that was behind it, that state of emergency would not in any way affect you. If you are falsely accused with being related with FETÖ and fired from your job, there are several ways to redress the injustice done to you. Even the European Court of Human Rights asked applicants to exhaust the local courts and tribunals first.
Now it is my turn to pose a question to those Turkey experts: Can you go back to your Western journalistic standards?