Prof Daron Acemoglu reacts to Turkish elections:  Hard not to be disappointed

A Turkish national of Armenian descent and one of the most brilliant economic scholars of the world, Daron Acemoglu reacted to Turkish election results in his new Twitter account.

This is a direct reprint of his comments:


  • To make sense of it, it is important to first recognize that the Turkish electorate has become very nationalistic. The far-right MHP, allied with Erdogan, received 10% of the vote, despite the fact that nationalist votes were split between Erdogan, MHP, Iyi Parti and others.


  • The president and his allies completely controlled TV and print media and used it to fan the flames of nationalism, esp. with allegations of the opposition being in cahoots with Kurdish separatists. Combined with Kilicdaroglu being an Alevi, this may have been effective.
  • Economic mismanagement and endemic corruption did not have as wide appeal as many (including myself) thought. These mattered in metropolitan areas, but not in places where AKP built and used its patronage networks.
  • Most jarringly, AKP did very well in major earthquake areas. This is where its patronage network mattered a lot. Years of municipal and higher-level corruption were responsible for the severity of the effects of earthquake and deaths. But promises of housing and jobs worked.
  • It turned out that many of us, once again, underestimated Erdogan’s political skills and ability to read and control the situation. Media dominance matters, but it goes beyond that. This part is bad news for democracies all around the world, not just in Turkey.
  • All of this is bad news for the future of Turkish institutions. The judiciary and law enforcement have lost all independence. Combined with powerful corruption networks (centered on the construction industry) and the situation of the media, this is bad news indeed.
  • We also have to recognize and learn from the electoral success of the machine that AKP built. This is part of democratic functioning, but it isn’t “truly democratic” because of repression, media control and intimidation against opponents and opposition (some of who are in jail).
  • But for democracy, things may be even worse. Though AKP has lost parliamentary seats, the opposition is now weaker and more fragmented. All the more so because CHP gave away several parliamentary seats to allies to keep the coalition together (which may have been a mistake).
  • Worse news for the country, the economy is in shatters. AKP has run down reserves and hugely expanded promises and spending to bolster up its patronage network. I don’t know how the country can stave of economic collapse.


  • One concern was that economic crisis would arrive under an opposition government (which did not seem to fully understand the severity of the situation in my opinion) and would tarnish the reputation of CHP and others. Now AKP, who broke it, will have to try to fix the economy.


  • Unfortunately, I don’t see any sign that AKP will be able to deal with the crisis either. There are few qualified people to take this task on board, and corruption and mismanagement are likely to continue. I am worried for the future of the economy and democracy.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.