An interesting analogy made by Visual Politik in this video claims that:

[Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the] "Anakin Skywalker of politics, he started out as the good guy in the movie but we all know that, eventually, he will fall to the dark side..."

Oddly enough he is said to have gained popularity after being president of Istanbul for being arrested for a public reading of a politically charged Islamic poem. This earned him support from a religious majority that felt oppressed by military secular rule. Which sound to me like someone who is not progressive, but maybe the choice of his countrymen.

However, he was seen to take authoritarian measures, including the arresting of protesters (keeping protests peaceful is not simple, and handling violent protests can be catastrophic). He supposedly deterred a military coup d'état.

The Turkish constitutional referendum, was widely regarded in the media as power seizing move by Erdogan. Reading the Wikipedia article, much of it sound to me like a transition from parliamentary system to the executive presidency (which works fine in many countries). Of course, it isn't helpful when such measures are approved by very narrow margins.

It caught my attention that international witnesses did testify that Voters had genuine choice on 2018 elections but at least some controversies arose during the referendum of 2017.

One thing I'm really missing from this picture is related to actual public approval and on-the-streets support for Erdogan. Is he popular? Do people discuss whether or not he is a dictator on the rise or just the president for now? Is it realistic to say he could have manipulated at least some elections on his favor?

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    What makes you think he would not be seen as a potential dictator ? Turkey has a 4.88/10 score on the 2017 democracy index, a very low score, particularly in the civil liberties section where it scores 2.35/10. If anyone is a dictator, Erdogan is definitely the man.
    – Bregalad
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 7:43
  • @Bregalad, you make a reasonable question in the negative, but I believe it is important to answer the question in the positive first. For instance, recently in Brazil, during the last 2 elections the Workers Party (PT) claimed that the adversary candidate posed "a risk to democracy". While there was some logic to the argument against Bolsonaro, the claim against Aécio Neves was plainly absurd. Much of the foreign media, particularly french outlets completely bought it though. Erdogan seems to be popular in Turkey, and popular presidents yield strong authority, but aren't necessarily dictators
    – Mefitico
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 12:39
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    I don't see that this is likely to have an answer with any evidence. There may be some people who speak like this, but given the current environment it is unlikely that people will speak freely on this topic in front of strangers. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 1:10
  • Related: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/29965/…
    – Alexei
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 6:41

3 Answers 3


The short answer is, no. No one sees Erdogan as potential dictator in Turkey. Some people who are mostly followers of main opposition CHP and Kurdish-nationalist HDP sees Erdogan as a dictator. But, I must say not all of them. Other people including followers of MHP don't always approve AKP when they do something related to the justice system. But, they don't see Erdogan as a dictator.

You must eventually understand that, unlike Western people Turkish people don't think free speech is so important that you can even discuss authority of Turkish Republic. Nationalism and statism are two basic principles of the Turkish Republic, even two of six main ideas of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Even CHP has that six ideas as official policy. For average Turkish person accusing state for any crime directly or argue about federalism can be seen as a treason. It is not free speech. Government can be guilty, not the state. And if a journalist committed a crime against state you can't defend him/her and still say you are nationalist. I may go off-topic but, I see lots of people think every corner of world share same values when it comes to politics. I know Western politics little and know Turkish politics. I can say it is lot different.

PS: Democracy index is not related to question. He asks if Turkish people see Erdogan as a dictator or not.

  • 3
    Please add a source to support your answer. In fact, your second sentence is already contradicted by your third sentence.
    – JJJ
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 0:04
  • @JJJ : I don't think that it's a strict-sense contradiction. In some places badmouthing the adversary reaches absurd levels (e.g. Donald Trump telling Hillary she would be in Jail if he were president). I see no contradiction in stating that a person in a condition that causes said person to be expected to exaggerate is claiming something while also saying that people in general do not "believe something*. This reasoning partially what rose my curiosity to ask the original question.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 2:48
  • @Mefitico it's difficult to qualify that distinction. While people may say one thing and do something different, they may well really mean it. In your example, it's hard quantify how many Trump supporters would actually lock Hilary up if they were given the power to do so. We can only look at people's actions (how they fill in polls, how they vote), we cannot actually read their thoughts.
    – JJJ
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 3:14
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    @JJJ They already think Erdogan as a dictator. Not a potential one. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 7:05
  • I can't show any evidence besides Kemal Kılıçtaroğlu (party leader of CHP) sometimes say "dictator" to Erdoğan on TV. There is no survey about if people see Erdoğan is a dictator because it is not a real thing in Turkey. Most people can say Erdogan is authoritarian. But, do not forget that Turkish people saw lots of authoritarian people starting Atatürk himself. Speaking Kurdish was forbidden in Turkey 10 years ago; turban was forbidden in government offices in a Muslim country. Even former Labor Party (Mainland Party now) applied constitutional court for closing Kurdish party this year. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 7:24

Some answers to specific questions:

Do people discuss whether or not he is a dictator on the rise or just the president for now?

Yes. Wile not using the term dictator, this quote from the Economist (citing a Turkish scholar abroad) does name what I would classify as broadening the president's powers:

With his new constitution, Mr Erdogan has laid the foundation for a system that in effect removes the secular elite, public institutions and parliament as the middlemen between the president and the people, says Karabekir Akkoyunlu, a Turkish scholar at São Paulo University.

One thing I'm really missing from this picture is related to actual public approval and on-the-streets support for Erdogan. Is he popular?

Yes (but not overwhelmingly popular), particularly among nationalists and conservative Muslims, from the same Economist article:

The Turkey over which Mr Erdogan now presides remains bitterly divided. On one side there are conservative Muslims and nationalists, for whom he remains a symbol of prosperity, religious freedom and national pride. On the other stand secularists, liberals, and the Kurds of the south-east, who see him as a corrupt and repressive despot.

In 2017, there was a referendum on broadening the president's powers (the one referred to in my first quote). This referendum could be viewed as a referendum on the president (because if you oppose him, why would you vote to massively increase his power?). The referendum passed with 51.41% of voters supporting the constitutional reform. I'd say this referendum is indicative as the turnout was high with 85.43% of eligible voters casting their ballot.

  • The point regarding the 2017 referendum it was reported to be neither free nor fair which is information I have a hard time assessing for truthfulness. Also, I'm not sure how the election go in Turkey, but there are many factors in some countries which affect a given voter ability to actually vote . So if margin is very narrow, I can hardly understand the result a reasonable proxy for a referendum on the president himself.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 3:26
  • Also, something is fishy about "Karabekir Akkoyunlu", I could find a twitter account associated with him, but I couldn't find his "Lattes Curriculum", which could be searched here and is a mandatory online CV almost every scholar in Brazil is required to have and update on given events. Both The Economist and the twitter claim him to be associated with University of São Paulo (located in Brazil). Not saying the reference is unreliable, but I would have liked to find a better background.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 3:34
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    @Mefitico I can find the scholar here (he's a visiting scholar). As for the referendum being fair or not, I cannot make a fair judgement on that. Regarding the narrow margin, assuming the result is correct, it shows that the country is almost evenly split (though the difference in number of voters is still over a million).
    – JJJ
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 3:42

No he is no dictator. Dictator is a term which is used if one wants to have away a Präsident elected from people. Because of he does what his people want but not what external powers want.

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    "what external powers"...? Incomplete sentence?
    – Mefitico
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 14:05
  • USA, eu, Israel. All which turkey want control remotely
    – benreis61
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 14:31
  • I'm noticing a pattern where all your "answers" are just endorsements of Erdogan that don't actually answer the question. Nobody here cares whether you support Erdogan or not, but they do care that your answers aren't clear and objective enough, hence all the downvotes and deletions.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 15:41
  • Then I am on the right track
    – benreis61
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 18:53
  • One is not welcome if one says truth
    – benreis61
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 18:55

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