Tuesday open thread—A few thoughts on autocrats
I like to mix things up here on ye olde TPV and look at things happening beyond our shores. Yes, that’s right, there’s still a world out there going on as we are worn down by the Age of Moron.
For example, over the weekend in Turkey, a mayoral election was re-run.
A couple of months ago, the opposition won the mayoralty of Istanbul, Turkey’s main city. Why is this important? Well, because being mayor of Istanbul is what launched the career of Turkish president and sultan Reccep Tayyip Erdogan. Being mayor of Istanbul is so important that Erdogan has often said that to control Turkey you have to control Istanbul.
The winner of April’s election, Ekrem Imamoglu, won by a razor-thin 13,000 votes. This was enough to give Erdogan the push to lean on the judiciary, which ordered a re-run of the election due to “irregularities”.
As it turned out this Sunday, this was a mistake. Instead of winning again by a small margin, Imamoglu won in a landslide with 54% of the vote, the biggest margin anyone had won by in decades.
Now, whether Imamoglu will be able to do much is an open question. Erdogan congratulated him, but it’s quite possible he’ll try to kneecap an Imamoglu administration.
However, Erdogan, who had never lost an election up until April—most major cities fell to the opposition—has been shown to be vulnerable. People are tired of his neo-Islamism, his autocratic tendencies, and his economic incompetence. By electing Imamoglu, they’re telling Erdogan that his time is coming to a close. (Former Erdogan allies are also splitting off, forming new parties which will eat into his AK Party base.)
We live in a country where a a plurality of people don’t bother voting. This has little to do with voter suppression; these are people who don’t even try to get to the polls or register to vote. Meanwhile, in Turkey, citizens cling to still-free elections as the means to start to get rid of an autocrat. Any time someone tells you that their vote doesn’t matter, point to Turkey. Autocrats maintain power as long as people remain apathetic. Once people find their power, the autocrat’s days are numbered.
Next year we’ll have a chance to rid ourselves of our own wannabe autocrat. There is no excuse to not exercise your franchise. Both parties are not the same, things will change, neutrality is not an option. We are, supposedly, the greatest democracy on earth. It’s time that we acted like it.
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