Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing fiercest anti-government protests since assumed office in 2003, and the thousands of demonstrators are feeling emboldened in the face of police brutality.
That’s clear with this ‘Game of Thrones’ reference scrawled on the a wall near Gezi Park of Taksim Square in Istanbul:
— Alex Christie-Miller (@AChristieMiller) June 3, 2013
Ergodan inadvertently responded to the graffiti on Monday when, referring to national elections, he said: “We already have a spring in Turkey … but there are those who want to turn this spring into winter … Be calm, these will all pass.”
And he’s mostly correct: the former Istanbul mayor-turned-Prime Minister is a long way from being booted out of office.
His Justice and Development party (AKP) has had a majority in parliament since November 2002 and in June 2011 voters returned Ergodan and his party to power with 49.95 per cent of the vote.
Even today, as the tear gas continues to fly, there is no question that Erdogan would win an election.
But he can’t push his luck, given his aspirations.
It’s understood that the 59-year-old from Istanbul wants to be president since his self-imposed three-term limit as prime minister expires in 2015. Presidential elections are slated for next year.
“Erdogan can’t stay in power unless he wins another election,” Professor Riva Kastoryano at the Paris Institute of Political Studies told euronews. “Democracy in Turkey will be the solution. … the electoral process will decide.”
Perhaps that’s why Turkey’s deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc apologized for “excessive violence” against the protesters on Tuesday.
Taking a step back now could prevent a loss of votes for the AKP in local elections next year or even the derailment of his presidential hopes.
Turkish government is taking some steps back. Protests will scale down in a matter of days.
— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) June 4, 2013
Nevertheless, the government’s de-escalation — after several days of cracking down — doesn’t take away from the power the people have shown over the past five days.
And no matter how accurate this graffiti, the unrest has already created one enduring image: “The lady in red.”
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