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Possible economic consequences of the Gezi Park resistance (1)
The Gezi resistance might help Turkey overcome the impediments to a mature democracy.
What are the possible economic consequences for Turkey of the Gezi Park resistance that started upon environmentalist sentiments and turned into the demand for freedom and democracy following the violent oppression of a democratic right? It’s a tall order. It should be addressed from two different dimensions: short-term and long-term. It is easier to comment on the long-term consequences. I will embark on that today.
From the long-term perspective, I have insistently argued that the current economic state in Turkey was far from satisfactory: Turkey has made almost no progress in the last three decades in terms of closing the welfare gap with rich countries. It’s just an inch better in all likelihood. I will not exhaust the article with figures and tables. There are a huge number of them in the archive, you might see them as you like.
One of the main reasons is the lagging democracy and its restrain on liberties. Imperfect democracies as Turkey fail to support economic development as much as advanced democracies for keeping a distance with liberties, sometimes way too far. Of course, rapid growth, large investments and construction frenzies are observed also under such regimes. But the buoyancy proves unsustainable. They fail in improving GDP per capita to catch up with developed countries no matter you rank on the world table. Even when things go well, the convergence has a limit. Not to mention income equality or green economics.
If people are not free enough, creativity and innovativeness cannot flourish. Seeking for unearned rent becomes easier and more yielding than making innovations or improving productivity. This becomes an overall tendency, at least. When the rules of the game change every now and then, the investment climate loses attraction. Given the absence of criticism, wrong projects are chosen or priorities are badly managed. Labeling some people as “the others” some part of the already-poor human capital is wasted.
Despite all odds, Turkey is a country with a certain level of democracy. The Gezi resistance might help Turkey overcome the impediments to a mature democracy. It also might change the way of doing politics in Turkey. These are all possible, but I’m not sure what the odds are. Even they are low, it is still good to have a hope. There is hope for a higher level of welfare, a more equitable income distribution and a cleaner environment. In short, there is hope for Turkey’s people to be happier.
So, what might be the consequences in the short-term? This is a tough one, as I said before. Let me elaborate on it until next time.
This commentary was published in Radikal daily on 06.06.2013