I returned to Istanbul last night following seven weeks away in England, feeling energised and excited to be here in time for the presidential election. I also have two long articles coming out in the next couple of weeks: a piece for Newsweek looking at Istanbul’s damaging construction boom and the politics behind it, and a piece on falconry on the Black Sea coast for the White Review, which I have been talking to friends for so long now, they must be wondering if it will ever appear.
Last week I was very fortunate to be invited to speak at London’s Frontline Club as part of a panel on the presidential election. The takeaway was more or less that Erdogan’s victory is a foregone conclusion, there are fears over rising authoritarianism, questions over the medium/long term prospects of the Turkish economy, and that the AKP remains the only game in town. The panel, chaired by BBC Turkish head Murat Nişancıoğlu, also featured former UK ambassador David Reddaway, Chatham House analyst Fadi Hakura, and recent LSE PhD graduate Karabekir Akkoyunlu. We were all more or less singing from the same hymn sheet, with some differences over the future prospects of the Kurdish peace process, the continuance of which remains the greatest source of optimism in Turkey today.
Here is a video of the whole talk: