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The Turkish Elections
A Golden Throne for Turkey’s Sultan

With parliamentary elections less than a week away, Turkey’s political discourse is swirling downward. The Washington Post reports on the controversy over a claim made by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, an opposition leader of the Republican People’s Party, that President Erdogan has a golden toilet in his palace in Ankara:

It’s a bizarre allegation, perhaps, and — at first at least — it prompted an appropriately bizarre response from Erdogan. On Sunday, Erdogan invited Kilicdaroglu to his home to inspect his toilets. If even a single gold-plated seat was found, Erdogan said in an interview with state-run TRT television, he would resign as president. If none was found, he said, Kilicdaroglu must resign.

It’s quite a bold move, and one that seems to suggest that, no, Erdogan doesn’t own a gold-plated toilet. In fact, it seems that Kilicdaroglu doesn’t really think Erdogan has one. In an interview on Monday, the opposition leader said his reference to gold-plated toilet seats was simply intended to illustrate the extravagances of officials and wasn’t meant to be taken literally.

The Turkish elections are proving to be much more hard-fought than Erdogan thought they’d be this time last year. The prime reason for that is the Turkish economy is circling the drain.

And in Turkey, as everywhere, elections often aren’t fought on the high level of academic discussion, but around memes and ideas that connect concepts voters care about to the ‘gut’. Whether Erdogan does or does not have a golden throne (we wouldn’t care to lay money that a tour of Ak Saray would reveal one), he does have a palace four times the floor space of Versailles and grandiose dreams for a new Turkey… all while his party’s supposed core competency, care of the economy, has suffered. And for many Turks—more than last year—the division is increasingly unacceptable.

So while principled critics of the Turkish administration might prefer attention were shone on, say, Erdogan’s threatening journalists with life in prison, sometimes elections of international importance are fought with the same thing as 7th grade student council votes: toilet humor.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Turkey desperately needs a change in Leadership, Erdogan is a megalomaniac and the longer he has to consolidate power the more likely he is to become an unremovable Dictator.

  • Dan Greene

    I know you really, really don’t like Erdogan, TAI, but isn’t it a little dishonest to put up a headline–“A Golden Throne for Turkey’s Sultan”–that strongly implies that Erdogan DID have a golden toilet installed when the content of the article clearly shows that he did not? I know that journalistic ethics is not your strong point, but couldn’t you at least pretend? If you want to write an article on Erdogan’s poor stewardship of the Turkish economy, as you suggest at the end of your piece, then do it. Don’t use cheap National Enquirer gimmicks to attack a leader who, if he were still best friends with Israel, you would be lauding even if he did have a golden toilet.

    • Kevin

      Every day a leader has to deny having a gold plated toilet is a day he is losing the PR battle. Just the fact that he has to deny it means that his Image is suffering.

      • Dan Greene

        I don’t disagree. Of course the practical consequences of your logic lead to the unbridled use of smears and attack ads, since, as you say, if you have to respond to an attack, you are losing the propaganda war. But given that the accuser subsequently conceded that his charge wasn’t meant to be taken literally, it seems ridiculous, as I said, for that to be a headliner here. And, as I also said, if Turkey were still buddies with Israel, TAI would say nice things about Erdogan regardless of whether he had gold toilet seats or not and probably forbear to post long pieces on the Armenian genocide. But when journalism becomes PR, the truth is hard to keep track of. How much time does TAI spend detailing the extravagances of the Saudi family? How much time does TAI spend detailing role of huge amounts of cash in our political system. Answer: Just about none.

  • JR

    So reporting fact that Turkey’s opposition leader accused Turkey’s President of having a golden toilet is the fault of the JUUUUIIIIICE???? Good catch by our resident anti-Semite Dan Greene.

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