Articles > > Via the Ballot Box

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-07-19
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

U.S. President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan both came to power through free democratic elections, and they will both either step down or remain in office via the same ballot box.
Erdogan has lost only one election since 2002 (in Istanbul) and he will remain head of state until 2023. So far, all evidence points to Trump remaining in the White House until 2024.
Both their campaigns have hinged on economic achievements to win votes. Erdogan rode the wave of his 'economic miracle' more than once, and the only card in Trump's hand is that of the U.S.'s economic growth and job creation, but neither can take personal credit for these achievements. The architect of Turkey's 'economic miracle', [former Turkish economy minister] Ali Babacan, has stopped doing his president's bidding and is on the path to challenging him with a new political party. As for the U.S. economic boom, its roots and catalysts date back to the Obama-Biden era, and experts attribute it to their program for emerging from the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Both men have adopted populist rhetoric to win the voters' support. Erdogan has invoked the Muslim Turks' religious-sectarian sensibilities and the Turkish people's nationalism in general in his struggle with the Kurds in Turkey and the region, while Trump has played on the fears of white, evangelical, and Jewish voters. Erdogan has demonized Kurds, Alawites, and secularists, and Trump has demonized people of color, immigrants, democrats, and women.
Both have conflated religion with politics in one way or another. Erdogan distinguished himself as a spokesperson for Sunni Islam in particular, even though he came to power via secularism and its instruments. Trump accords Israel a halo of sanctity so as to win over the U.S. Christian evangelical votes, although his personal behavior and values are as un-Christian as it can get. His Vice President Mike Pence delves into biblical myth and legends to guide his foreign policy, along with the Palestinian-Israeli dossier troika [U.S. envoys Kushner, Greenblatt, and Friedman].
Both have alienated record numbers of colleagues, comrades, and senior officials in their administrations. Erdogan ousted the founders of the AKP [ruling Justice and Development party] from the financial-economic policy architect Babacan, to foreign policy author [former FM and PM] Ahmet Davutoglu, to his comrade [former Turkish president] Abdullah Gul and hundreds of others like them, or with less influence. The list of those whom Trump has abandoned (or vice versa), and those whom he has offered up as sacrifice so they have ended up in prison, is too long to fit into of any article such as this one.
Both have adopted a foreign policy approach characterized by engaging in ventures and pushing conflicts to the brink before walking back their steps with huge strides. Erdogan provoked Russia and downed one of its warplanes [in November 2015], and his wagers brought the two countries close to a direct confrontation before he backtracked, apologized, and joined the Astana/Sochi [Syrian negotiating] tracks.
Trump threatened 'little rocket man' [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] that he would annihilate North Korea before requesting permission to make a short stop at the demilitarized zone border strip between North and South Korea to pay tribute to his friend Kim, and asked to take a few steps together into the latter's country's soil.
Erdogan has long threatened to wage wars in Syria and Iraq, but twice failed to send his army there, until he was given the green light by the Kremlin's Tsar. Trump has also threatened to wreak woe, doom, and calamity upon Iran before leaving his phone number with the Swiss president and spending his time waiting for a call from [Iranian FM] Zarif or [Iranian President] Rowhani.
Finally, they have both left indelible scars on the structure of their countries' government and society after polarizing and dividing the public to the extreme, not only on political or policy grounds, but on ethnic, religious, national, and racial grounds as well.And both will ultimately leave their posts, possibly around the same time.