PACE should save Turkey’s Europeanization process
23 April 2017
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likes to say “the world is greater than five,” referring to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC.) Many of us would agree with him, as the UNSC’s makeup really is Orwellian. “All nations are equal. But some nations are more equal than others,” it basically says.
The coalition to end all coalitions
16 April 2017
Turks like to vote. They have tasted the freedom of a ballot booth, a place where you face yourself, and make a decision about your future. But we hate coalition governments. Anyone who was around here in the 1990s and before would tell you that the horse trading after elections is unbearable, and that it should be done away with if possible. How far are we willing to go to abolish that kind of uncertainty?
‘Come on, this is not Turkey’
09 April 2017
“Human beings are pattern-seeking and storytelling animals,” said Edward Leamer, a professor in economics. That is after all, what science is also about; you look for patterns and tell coherent stories about them. Today, let me tell you about a couple of persistent patterns regarding the Turkish economy.
Why Turkey’s economy stumbled in 2016
02 April 2017
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), Turkey grew by 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. Added to upward revisions of the previous two quarters, that brings Turkey’s annual growth in 2016 to 2.9 percent. The same number was 6.1 percent in 2015.
Turkey's role in the new regional normal
26 March 2017
I was reading the results of a survey conducted in the province of Van around a week ago. Van is one of the easternmost provinces in Turkey, right on the border with Iran. The survey was conducted at a town hall meeting by my colleagues at TEPAV. Around 400 participants were asked “What needs to be done to improve the tourism industry in Van?” The respondents did not choose options like “more SME support,” nor did they ask for more money, as is usual in provinces like Van. No, their first priority was to improve the quality of urban life. If this is the first time you are hearing about quality of life issues in an Anatolian town, you are not alone. I was perplexed. Most people in Anatolian towns don’t try to improve their urban environments; they just pick up and leave for the b
Unemployment amid the political storm
19 March 2017
March 15 was a very interesting day, or at least it was for me. The Netherlands held general elections, and the Turkish Institute of Statistics (TÜİK) released its Bulletin of Unemployment. I think it proved to be a day of glory for the Dutch, and despair for Turks. The Islamophobic Geert Wilders was sidelined by Dutch voters, who have turned up at a record 85 percent. On the same day, we found out that unemployment reached a seven-year high in Turkey, while having declined to a seven-year low in the EU, revealed just a week ago. It is worthwhile to unpack these events a bit.
It's all about that "vision thing"
12 March 2017
In 1987, then-vice president George H.W. Bush was spending a few days at Camp David to think about how to approach his presidential campaign. When the topic of a "vision" came up, Bush is said to have responded in exasperation, "Oh, the vision thing." Lacking vision has become synonymous for failure to articulate compelling and coherent policy positions. Bush of course, ended up being a one-term president, and there is a reason for that. The "vision thing" is the single most pressing problem of Western civilization today. Let me elaborate.
How to think about 'Turkey's Great Normalization'
05 March 2017
In 1980, Turkey’s GDP per capita was around $1,500. It was $3,600 in 2002 and by 2008 it had reached $10,000. Then it stalled. Was that halt only because of the global financial crisis? I don’t think so. The convergence of Turkey’s per capita GDP to that of the United States also stalled at the same time.
Erdoğan and Turkey’s tradition of pluralism
26 February 2017
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was touring the Gulf last week. During the trip, he spoke to a number of Arab media outlets, including the Qatari newspaper Al-Arab. Most remarkable during this interview were his comments on Egypt. What he said wasn’t so interesting, it is what he didn’t say that made this interview so fascinating to me. The journalist asked him specifically about Egyptian President Sisi, but Erdoğan refrained from talking about the former general, instead simply choosing to say a few nice things about his country. This was a significant break from his usual pattern.
Trump’s NATO question is a fair one
19 February 2017
President Donald Trump has entered our lives like an asteroid entering the stratosphere. When a giant rock hit the earth millions of years ago, the explosions from its impacts led to dense fog and filthy air. Imagine it: tons and tons of debris sent into the atmosphere, circling the planet for years. All the fuss about NATO is part of that cloud that’s tossed up into the air. Why has the leader of the free world started to speak a language unknown to his allies? Why is he doing this?