William Armstrong at the TLS:
What went wrong in Turkey? Ten years ago the world was full of praise for the “Turkish model”. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were heralded as democratic pioneers. Turkey was said to have created a successful template for other Muslim-majority countries to follow, marrying democracy, free-market capitalism and pragmatic Islam. Those days now seem remote. The government has steadily tightened its authoritarian grip; a peace process with Kurdish rebels collapsed last year, leaving south-east parts of the country in rubble; terror attacks have shaken Turkey’s biggest cities; the economy is stalling; a military coup was avoided in July but the ongoing state of emergency is giving cover for an extensive government power grab; the war over the 900-km border in Syria is exacerbating Turkey’s internal fault lines; many educated citizens now talk of emigrating.
The 180-degree turn from hope to gloom shows how easily news coverage can be distorted by convenient overarching narratives. While Erdoğan was once simplistically characterized in Western reporting and analysis as a model leader for the Middle East, he is today denounced as the single source of all the country’s problems. The subject of a strange cult of personality in Turkey, he is a figure of increasing fascination abroad. Foreign correspondents despair about their editors’ obsession with the Turkish President, a larger-than-life character guaranteed to stir interest among readers.