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Could Turkey's Devastating Earthquake Unseat Erdogan?


Erdogan arrived on the Turkish political scene in the late 1990s in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that brought to light the incompetence of a government that could not protect its people from natural disasters. In 2023, he may end up losing power for the same reason. 

With the death toll of the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that devastated Turkey on Monday already surpassing 17,600 and expected to rise exponentially, many are now looking to lay blame. For many, it is a government that allowed corruption to undermine strict new building codes developed after the 1999 earthquake that claimed the lives of 17,000 people. 

Recently, Erdogan called for early elections in Turkey, to be held a month earlier than originally planned, on May 14th. Now, he will emerge either as the hero or the villain. On the ground, PR stunts are in full force, with talk of rescue teams being pushed aside to make way for AKP-branded actions. Opposition aid trucks are being loaded and then re-flagged with the AKP colors to ensure Erdogan is at the front of the rescue mission during this most devastating time for Turkey’s citizens. 

Even Twitter was blocked for nine hours on Thursday as the AKP attempted to take control of the rescue mission and ensure that opposition forces were not caught on camera rescuing anyone from the rubble. 

This is all about desperate political capital for Erdogan, and his detractors hope–at the very least–this horrible tragedy will be his undoing. 


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