Erdogan’s tantrum is a sign of weakness

Sudden reversals demonstrate the Turkish president’s lack of coherent policy

24 March 2021 - 19:59 By David Gardner

Early last Saturday morning, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s imperious president, had a Donald Trump moment. Instead of one of the former US president’s Twitter tantrums, Erdogan issued decrees. The first, firing the central bank governor, could amount to economic suicide. The second, withdrawing from a treaty to prevent violence against women that Turkey was the first to sign a decade ago, threatens to bury the remnants of the country’s reputation as a democracy that protects all its citizens.

A brief recap. Last November, the lira, Turkey’s currency, was plummeting. The country was entering its second currency crisis in the two years since Berat Albayrak, the president’s son-in-law, took over the finance ministry. The powerful and abrasive Albayrak chased the high economic growth based on consumption and cheap credit demanded by Erdogan. He bowed to his father-in-law’s belief that interest rates are “the mother of all evil”, refusing to raise rates to curb inflation, burning through more than $100bn in a failed defence of the lira. Central bank governors who refused to kowtow were dispensed with...

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