William Harris in The Point:

Gezi3The peculiarity of the modern religious conservative gives rise to different shades of Erdoğan. Views of the controversial Prime Minister vary across the ideological spectrum. There’s the religious conservative Erdoğan, who called Turkey’s founder and most popular political figure a drunk; there’s neoliberal Erdoğan, who insisted, even as a court has delayed the “renovation” of Gezi Park, that a mall will be built; there’s pro-democracy Erdoğan, who fired military leaders allegedly involved in plotting a coup against him; there’s dictatorial Erdoğan, who fired those same officers (throughout modern Turkish history, the military was the protector of Kemalism, pulling coups, as it claimed, in order to restore democracy) in a scheme to amass more power; and there’s conspiracy-theorist Erdoğan, who lashed out against a mythical interest-rate lobby when foreign investors reacted negatively to a bloody police crackdown on protestors, and who has blamed the protests on the sinister alcohol lobby.

The strength of the protests has been their pluralism, banding together labor unions, liberals, anti-capitalists, feminists and environmentalists. They’ve been able to combine critiques of each shade of Erdoğan. Meanwhile, in a major break from Occupy Wall Street, the protestors have been quite clear on their demands: to preserve Gezi Park as it is; to free those involved in the protests who have been detained (including more than 50 lawyers at an Istanbul courthouse and a number, more recently, of volunteer doctors); and to end the violent police repression of the protests. Perhaps Erdoğan’s absolute refusal to compromise can be traced back to these demands—or, if not to the demands themselves, then to the form in which they reached him: If people out in the street can influence policy, what might they ask for next?

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