Best-laid plans: on Turkish politics: The Hindu Editorial

Best-laid plans: on Turkish politics: The Hindu Editorial

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not take many by surprise last week when he called presidential and parliamentary elections in June, more than a year ahead of schedule. In power since 2002 first as Prime Minister and since 2014 as the first directly elected President, he has overseen the country’s steady lurch towards right-wing authoritarianism; the snap poll could be another step in that direction. Last year he won a controversial referendumfavouring an executive presidency, and he is clearly anxious to complete the transition, as the changes only come into effect after the presidential election. Mr. Erdoğan had pulled off a slender victory in the plebiscite, though the exercise was held under a national emergency and several opposition leaders were in detention. The outcome reinforced concerns about the sagging popularity of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). The risk of Turkey’s economy overheating, besides soaring inflation, would make Mr. Erdoğan wary of leaving time for the opposition to consolidate. For now, averting a run-off would be uppermost on his mind. Observers cite recent developments as a prelude to the elections. One highlight is the alliance the AKP struck a few months back with its one-time rival, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The latter’s hard line on the Kurdish question and opposition to the Western alliance — notwithstanding Turkey’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and long-standing ambition to join the European Union — are well-known. Curiously, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli spoke about early elections just a day before Mr. Erdoğan made the actual announcement.

Best-laid plans on Turkish politics The Hindu Editorial

The pact between the two parties is emblematic of Mr. Erdoğan’s overall political shift to a hardline stance at home and in his foreign policy. Turkey’s offensive in January against a Kurdish enclave in north-west Syria tapped into a deep hostility at home against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an insurgency movement. Conversely, the attack on Afrin drew strong condemnation from Ankara’s NATO allies, who count on Kurdish militias in their military campaign against the Islamic State. At home, democratic space in Turkey has severely shrunk since the imposition of a national emergency and the crackdown following an unsuccessful military coup in 2016. Since then, countless critics have been detained, including journalists, and Turks are careful about voicing their opinions openly. A recent clampdown in a reputed Istanbul university over Turkey’s offensive on Afrin has raised concerns over academic freedom. The routine labelling of protesters as terrorists and communists reflects a creepingintolerance against even normal expressions of dissent. Even as he seeks to consolidate his hold on power, Mr. Erdoğan can only salvage his reputation if he starts restoring civil liberties ahead of the election.


1) Lurch
Meaning: Leave an associate or friend abruptly and without assistance or support when they are in a difficult situation.
Example: “He left you in the lurch when you needed him most”
Synonyms: Abandon, Desert
Antonyms: Help, Support
2) Authoritarianism
Meaning: The enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom.
3) Snap
Meaning: Done or taken on the spur of the moment, unexpectedly, or without notice.
Example: “A snap decision”
4) Referendum
Meaning: A general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision.
Example: “He called for a referendum on the death penalty”  
Synonyms: Vote, Ballot
5) Anxious
Meaning: Very eager or concerned to do something or for something to happen.
Example: “The company was anxious to avoid any trouble”  
Synonyms: Eager, Keen
6) Slender
Meaning: (Of something abstract) barely sufficient in amount or basis.
Example: “People of slender means”
Synonyms: Meagre, Limited
Antonyms: Considerable, Abundant
7) Plebiscite
Meaning: The direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution.
Example: “The administration will hold a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”  
Synonyms: Vote, Poll
8) Detention
Meaning: The action of detaining someone or the state of being detained in official custody.
Example: “The fifteen people arrested were still in police detention”
Synonyms: Custody, Confinement
9) Sagging
Meaning: Decline to a lower level, usually temporarily.
Example: “Exports are forging ahead while home sales sag”
Synonyms: Falter, Weaken
10) Soaring
Meaning: Increase rapidly above the usual level.
Example: “The cost of living continued to soar”  
Synonyms: Escalate, Skyrocket
11) Consolidate
Meaning: Combine (a number of things) into a single more effective or coherent whole.
Example: “All manufacturing activities have been consolidated in new premises”
Synonyms: Combine, Unite
12) Averting
Meaning: Turn away (one’s eyes or thoughts).
Example: “She averted her eyes while we made stilted conversation”  
Synonyms: Turn aside, Turn away
13) Prelude
Meaning: An action or event serving as an introduction to something more important.
Example: “A ceasefire had been agreed as a prelude to full peace negotiations”
Synonyms: Preliminary, Overture
14) Rival
Meaning: A person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity.
Example: “He has no serious rival for the job”  
Synonyms: Competitor, Opponent
Antonyms: Partner, Ally
15) Emblematic
Meaning: Serving as a symbol of a particular quality or concept; symbolic.
Example: “This case is emblematic of a larger problem”
Synonyms: Symbolic, Representative
Antonyms: Representational, Realistic
16) Enclave
Meaning: A place or group that is different in character from those surrounding it.
Example: “The engineering department is traditionally a male enclave”
17) Hostility
Meaning: Hostile behaviour; unfriendliness or opposition.
Example: “Their hostility to all outsiders”
Synonyms: Antagonism, Bitterness
Antonyms: Friendliness, Approval
18) Insurgency
Meaning: An active revolt or uprising.
Example: “Rebels are waging an armed insurgency to topple the monarchy”  
19) Conversely
Meaning: Introducing a statement or idea which reverses one that has just been made or referred to.
Example: “He would have preferred his wife not to work, although conversely he was also proud of what she did”  
20) Condemnation
Meaning: The expression of very strong disapproval; censure.
Example: “There was strong international condemnation of the attack”  
Synonyms: Censure, Criticism
Antonyms: Praise, Plaudits
21) Militias
Meaning: A military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
Example: “Creating a militia was no answer to the army’s manpower problem”  
22) Crackdown
Meaning: A series of severe measures to restrict undesirable or illegal people or behaviour.
Example: “A crackdown on car crime”  
Synonyms: Clampdown, Elimination
23) Coup
Meaning: A sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.
Example: “He was overthrown in an army coup”  
Synonyms: Overthrow, Takeover
Antonyms: Election
24) Detained
Meaning: Keep (someone) in official custody, typically for questioning about a crime or in a politically sensitive situation.
Example: “She was detained without trial for two years”  
25) Clampdown
Meaning: A concerted or harsh attempt to suppress something.
Example: “A clampdown on crime”  
Synonyms: Suppression, Prevention
26) Creeping
Meaning: Move slowly and carefully in order to avoid being heard or noticed.
Example: “He crept downstairs, hardly making any noise”
Synonyms: Crawl, Edge
27) Dissent
Meaning: The holding or expression of opinions at variance with those commonly or officially held.
Example: “There was no dissent from this view”  
Synonyms: Disagreement, Argument
Antonyms: Agreement, Acceptance
28) Salvage
Meaning: Retrieve or preserve (something) from potential loss or adverse circumstances.
Example: “It was the only crumb of comfort he could salvage from the ordeal”  
Synonyms: Rescue, Save
Antonyms: Retain, Conserve
29) Reputation
Meaning: A widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic.
Example: “His knowledge of his subject earned him a reputation as an expert”
Synonyms: Name, Repute

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