For Turkish president, war may offer political rewards

The Wall Street Journal reports: Turkey’s government — which lost its parliamentary majority last month — bills its new two-front war against Kurdish militants and Islamic State as a much-overdue reaction to terrorism. But, on the third front of domestic politics, this violence could also help President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party regain control.

In the June 7 parliamentary elections, Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost its majority for the first time in 12 years, and has been in coalition talks since. If these negotiations fail in coming weeks, Mr. Erdogan has said he will send the country back to the polls.

A rise in nationalist feelings amid the bloodshed and an unfolding crackdown on the government’s Kurdish political foes could bolster AKP’s chances in such a new election, many analysts say.

A two-percentage point shift from the last election could restore AKP’s absolute majority, making concessions demanded by its potential coalition partners on press freedom, corruption prosecutions and foreign policy unnecessary. This could also allow Mr. Erdogan to proceed with controversial plans to turn Turkey into a presidential republic and solidify his personal power.

“Turkey’s domestic policy and foreign policy have become messily mixed together. It’s now very difficult to separate the domestic political considerations from the security and strategic considerations of those who have started the air strikes,” said Soli Ozel, a Turkish political commentator and professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. [Continue reading…]

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