Destinations Magazine

Turkish Politics: Disillusioned and Divided

By Stizzard
Turkish politics: Disillusioned and divided

AS TURKEY grieves over 301 miners who died in its biggest industrial disaster, in Soma on May 13th, another truth is sinking in. Most of them perished because of appallingly unsafe conditions, lax government inspectors and an operator that put profit first. Yet Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that such tragedies were “in the nature” of mining—never mind that methane leaks had been reported and ignored. Mobbed by locals baying for him to resign, Mr Erdogan slapped one miner and called him an “Israeli spawn.” Photographs of one of his advisers kicking a protester as gendarmes pinned him to the ground came to stand for the government’s response.In most democracies the disaster would have cost the jobs of ministers, or even the prime minister. Mr Erdogan’s critics gloated that his dreams of being Turkey’s first directly elected president in August were over. Unlike last year’s Gezi protests, the victims were not urban “white Turks” or minority Kurds or Alevis, but conservative Sunnis whom Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development (AK) party has championed during 12 years of rule.Yet Mr Erdogan is still likely to weather Soma, just as he has survived…

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