People celebrating the ‘Evet’ (Yes) vote result outside the governing AK Party headquarters in Ankara. (Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images)
People celebrating the ‘Evet’ (Yes) vote result outside the governing AK Party headquarters in Ankara. (Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is destroying democracy from within – and he is not the only one



For a man who had just cemented his reputation as modern Turkey’s most influential leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory speech on Sunday night was surprisingly subdued.

Contrast that with the defiant tone struck after last summer’s coup attempt, when thousands went into the streets to defend Turkey’s government – and, in a very real sense, to defend Mr Erdogan himself – during the victory rallies subsequently held in his honour.

Perhaps Mr Erdogan sensed that the country, briefly so united after the coup attempt that even the political opposition turned out for his rallies, is now divided again. His margin of victory was narrow, barely enough to scrape through the most sweeping changes to the Turkish state since its founding after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Still, a victory – as the winners of Britain’s narrow Brexit referendum and the loser of the US popular vote who occupies the White House will tell you – is still a victory. And Mr Erdogan will use this referendum to change how Turkey’s democracy functions – even as he undermined democracy itself in order to win it.

The slipstream of history drags many events in its wake. And while Turkey’s particular circumstances may be unique, this referendum is one more democratic exercise in which the victorious side actively undermined democracy to triumph.

It is also one more example of democracies facing significant challenges and losing faith in the power of alliances to solve them. In Turkey, Mr Erdogan wants his country to go it alone rather than go together with Europe. Britain and the United States have leaders who tell their people the exact same thing.

An unusual historical moment is playing out across democracies. Similar divisions within them are being exploited in the same way to win elections. In votes in Ankara, as in Washington, London and Paris, common threads can be detected – with common threats to democracy.

The divisions that exist in Turkish society mirror those in American society. There is the same split between rural conservatives and urban liberals. Conservatives, who support Mr Erdogan as they supported Mr Trump, share the feeling of being unmoored from their values by the modern world; from Islam in Turkey, from Christianity in the United States.

These conservatives share the same unreflective patriotism, the same belief that they were forgotten by previous governments and disdained for their rural attitudes by liberal elites. In both cases they see in Mr Erdogan and Mr Trump as an embodiment of their values and a champion for their lives.

On the other side of the divide, among those who oppose Mr Trump and Mr Erdogan, there is also much that unites them. These liberals, again based in the major cities, fear the president intends to promote the values of his base against their own interests. In Istanbul and Ankara, artists, writers and academics worry about creeping conservatism, which is entering their liberal, secular enclaves.

Those fears are not shared in the urban centres of Britain or France. Yet there are parallels there too. The insurgent political groups in these countries – UKIP in the UK, the Front National – blame European elites for their woes, as does Mr Erdogan. They frame themselves as plain-speaking, as does Turkey’s president. They tell the people that, once their countries are able to set their own courses, removed from the strictures of the past (the EU or, in Mr Erdogan’s telling, a sclerotic, military-drafted constitution), they will be free.

These parallels are not coincidental. Democracies do not exist in a vacuum; the challenges they face are often similar. But the response of leaders such as Mr Trump and Mr Erdogan have actively undermined the democratic institutions of the country. Both believe they can harness the power of the people to bypass the usual checks and balances – the media and the judiciary – and that the usual way of conducting politics does not apply to them.

This is especially concerning because Turkey’s democracy is one of the ways that the pressures that afflict the country can be eased. If Mr Erdogan thinks that centralising power in his hands will make it easier to defuse tensions as distinct as the Syrian civil war and Kurdish separatism, he is wrong. Genuine democracy actually offers him political tools, rather than limiting his options.

Democratic politicians are unseating democracy. Mr Erdogan is merely the latest. By attacking judges and the media, by framing alliances as limiting, and by appealing to the crowds rather than working with elected representatives, politicians in many countries are undermining the very things they ought to be protecting.

falyafai@thenational.ae

On Twitter: @FaisalAlYafai

Origin
Dan Brown
Doubleday

Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

Author: Kenneth W Harl
Publisher:
Hanover Square Press
Pages:
576

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder
Power: 101hp
Torque: 135Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
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KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

If you go...

Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur, from about Dh3,600. Air Asia currently flies from Kuala Lumpur to Terengganu, with Berjaya Hotels & Resorts planning to launch direct chartered flights to Redang Island in the near future. Rooms at The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort start from 680RM (Dh597).

John Wick: Chapter 4

Director: Chad Stahelski

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, George Georgiou

Rating: 4/5

Australia tour of Pakistan

March 4-8: First Test, Rawalpindi

March 12-16: Second Test, Karachi

March 21-25: Third Test, Lahore

March 29: First ODI, Rawalpindi

March 31: Second ODI, Rawalpindi

April 2: Third ODI, Rawalpindi

April 5: T20I, Rawalpindi

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Summer special
MATCH INFO

Austria 2
Hinteregger (53'), Schopf (69')

Germany 1
Ozil (11')

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Cheeseburger ingredients

Price for a single burger £0.44
Price for a single bun £0.17
Price for a single cheese slice £0.04
Price for 10g Gherkins is less than £0.01
Price for 10g ketchup is less than £0.01
Price for 10g mustard is less than £0.01
Price for 10g onions is less than £0.01

Total 68p

Credit: Meal Delivery Experts

We Weren’t Supposed to Survive But We Did

We weren’t supposed to survive but we did.      
We weren’t supposed to remember but we did.              
We weren’t supposed to write but we did.  
We weren’t supposed to fight but we did.              
We weren’t supposed to organise but we did.
We weren’t supposed to rap but we did.        
We weren’t supposed to find allies but we did.
We weren’t supposed to grow communities but we did.        
We weren’t supposed to return but WE ARE.
Amira Sakalla

Oppenheimer

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon

Rating: 5/5

Points to remember
  • Debate the issue, don't attack the person
  • Build the relationship and dialogue by seeking to find common ground
  • Express passion for the issue but be aware of when you're losing control or when there's anger. If there is, pause and take some time out.
  • Listen actively without interrupting
  • Avoid assumptions, seek understanding, ask questions
The Year Earth Changed

Directed by:Tom Beard

Narrated by: Sir David Attenborough

Stars: 4

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

UAE v West Indies

First ODI - Sunday, June 4
Second ODI - Tuesday, June 6
Third ODI - Friday, June 9

Matches at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. All games start at 4.30pm

UAE squad
Muhammad Waseem (captain), Aayan Khan, Adithya Shetty, Ali Naseer, Ansh Tandon, Aryansh Sharma, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Ethan D’Souza, Fahad Nawaz, Jonathan Figy, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Lovepreet Singh, Matiullah, Mohammed Faraazuddin, Muhammad Jawadullah, Rameez Shahzad, Rohan Mustafa, Sanchit Sharma, Vriitya Aravind, Zahoor Khan

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency in the world. It was created in 2009 as a new way of paying for things that would not be subject to central banks that are capable of devaluing currency. A Bitcoin itself is essentially a line of computer code. It's signed digitally when it goes from one owner to another. There are sustainability concerns around the cryptocurrency, which stem from the process of "mining" that is central to its existence.

The "miners" use computers to make complex calculations that verify transactions in Bitcoin. This uses a tremendous amount of energy via computers and server farms all over the world, which has given rise to concerns about the amount of fossil fuel-dependent electricity used to power the computers. 

2020 Oscars winners: in numbers
  • Parasite – 4
  • 1917– 3
  • Ford v Ferrari – 2
  • Joker – 2
  • Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood – 2
  • American Factory – 1
  • Bombshell – 1
  • Hair Love – 1
  • Jojo Rabbit – 1
  • Judy – 1
  • Little Women – 1
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl) – 1
  • Marriage Story – 1
  • Rocketman – 1
  • The Neighbors' Window – 1
  • Toy Story 4 – 1
Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash

Name: Brendalle Belaza

From: Crossing Rubber, Philippines

Arrived in the UAE: 2007

Favourite place in Abu Dhabi: NYUAD campus

Favourite photography style: Street photography

Favourite book: Harry Potter

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 247hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 370Nm from 1,500-3,500rpm

Transmission: 10-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 7.8L/100km

Price: from Dh94,900

On sale: now

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Ramez Gab Min El Akher

Creator: Ramez Galal

Starring: Ramez Galal

Streaming on: MBC Shahid

Rating: 2.5/5

The biog

Name: Salem Alkarbi

Age: 32

Favourite Al Wasl player: Alexandre Oliveira

First started supporting Al Wasl: 7

Biggest rival: Al Nasr

The specs

Engine: 3.6-litre, V6
Transmission: eight-speed auto
Power: 285hp
Torque: 353Nm
Price: Dh159,900
On sale: now

The full list of 2020 Brit Award nominees (winners in bold):

British group

Coldplay

Foals

Bring me the Horizon

D-Block Europe

Bastille

British Female

Mabel

Freya Ridings

FKA Twigs

Charli xcx

Mahalia​

British male

Harry Styles

Lewis Capaldi

Dave

Michael Kiwanuka

Stormzy​

Best new artist

Aitch

Lewis Capaldi

Dave

Mabel

Sam Fender

Best song

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber - I Don’t Care

Mabel - Don’t Call Me Up

Calvin Harrison and Rag’n’Bone Man - Giant

Dave - Location

Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove

Lewis Capaldi - Someone you Loved

Tom Walker - Just You and I

Sam Smith and Normani - Dancing with a Stranger

Stormzy - Vossi Bop

International female

Ariana Grande

Billie Eilish

Camila Cabello

Lana Del Rey

Lizzo

International male

Bruce Springsteen

Burna Boy

Tyler, The Creator

Dermot Kennedy

Post Malone

Best album

Stormzy - Heavy is the Head

Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka

Lewis Capaldi - Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent

Dave - Psychodrama

Harry Styles - Fine Line

Rising star

Celeste

Joy Crookes

beabadoobee

British Grand Prix free practice times in the third and final session at Silverstone on Saturday (top five):

1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:28.063 (18 laps)

2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 1:28.095 (14)

3. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) 1:28.137 (20)

4. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 1:28.732 (15)

5. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Renault) 1:29.480 (14)

'Hocus Pocus 2'

Director: Anne Fletcher

Stars: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy

Rating: 3.5/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5