Τετάρτη, 16 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Turkey’s prime minister can’t seem to decide whether he wants to be a reformer or a tyrant.

All northern summer long, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in a very bad mood. The public squares and parks of Istanbul and several other Turkish cities were taken over by protesters he angrily dismissed as "riff-raff", turning the full coercive power of the state on the largely peaceful demonstrators.
The riot police and indiscriminate use of teargas – including on children, women and the infirm – tarnished the Turkish prime minister's image. He wrecked his own international standing. And he damaged his own domestic political ambitions.
On Monday in Ankara, a rather different Erdogan was on view, although no one is quite sure which one is the real prime minister. He gave a glimpse of his former self, long disappeared from view, the most reformist and liberalising head of government seen since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the republic's founder.
Seldom predictable, Erdogan went some way to confound his critics, suggesting that his summer bark was a lot worse than his autumn bite.
The prime minister's big package of reforms comes ahead of important local and presidential elections next year. So Erdogan's first aim on Monday was about retaining maximum power for his Justice and Development Party. That might explain the most concrete pledge he made – headscarves will be allowed for female civil servants and members of Parliament, he vowed.
That is progress for democratic rights and a major blow to the secularists who dominated Turkey's pre-Erdogan decades.

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