Weekend Roundup: Turkish and Greek Democracy Upend the Status Quo
The value of democracy, when it works, is its capacity to change course. In both Greece, and now Turkey, recent elections have upended the status quo. With Greece having lost an astonishing 25 percent of its GDP through austerity policies, the Syriza government that came to power earlier this year has insisted on sticking to its popular mandate to resist the demands of creditors and hold out for debt relief. The prospects of default and an exit from the eurozone have never been closer. In Turkey, which has been seeking to join the European Union, the autocratic path set by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been stopped in its tracks by voters in this week’s poll.
Writing from Istanbul, Behlül Özkan sees the beginning of the end of the Erdoğan era. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports that the surprise demise of support for Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party raises the big question: “now what?” The Middle East Eye’s David Hearst reminds us not to diminish what Turkey has accomplished under AKP rule. World editor Nick Robins-Early profiles the “pro-gay and pro-women” Peoples’ Democratic Party that was an election spoiler. A photo essay shows the spontaneous celebrations that erupted in Turkey when the election results came in. In a break from election coverage, Sophia also reports on the opening of a rare Arabic-language bookstore that’s giving Syrian refugees in Turkey’s capital city a taste of home.
Writing from Athens, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis calls on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer hope to his beleaguered people. Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz fears a “Grexit” could trigger a global financial crisis.