Wed, Jul 03, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Istanbul protests send message to Turkey’s Erdogan

By Bill Keller  /  NY Times News Service, ISTANBUL, Turkey

Turkey’s prosperity — and in large measure Erdogan’s popularity — depends on foreign investment and flocks of tourists. The crackdown on protesters dented Erdogan’s approval ratings and, more threatening to his tenure, it spooked investors, emptied hotels and sent the Turkish stock market into a tailspin.

“Yes, the protesters have something to lose, but so does Erdogan,” Ulgen said.

In about a year, his third term as prime minister will be up and the rules do not allow for a fourth. He has been exploring options to prolong his time in power, but they require popular support and Erdogan’s hovers precariously at about 50 percent.

So whether he has the ability to temper his intemperance, he has the incentive. A parliamentarian, who is a moderate supporter of Erdogan and was with him during the protests, said: “He got the message.”

We will see.

For the long-term stability of Turkey, it would be good to have a robust political opposition advocating a pluralism that protects both the devout and the secular. In the meantime, it may be up to Erdogan to save Turkey from himself.

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