Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Republic of Turkey’s brilliant if evil president, so dominates his country’s political scene that he can afford a bit of self-indulgence. And so he does just that. Consider the two dominant themes of Turkish public life at present:
‐Changing the constitution to change a parliamentary democracy into a presidential system: Erdogan has been obsessed with this transformation for years even though, already enjoying all the powers the constitution might grant him, and more, he has no need for it.
‐Refusing to change the anti-terrorism laws to comply with demands by the European Union: If Erdogan would make this meaningless semantic concession (he could still arrest anyone he wants, just on a different charge), he would win the gigantic benefit of visa-free travel for 75 million Turks to the EU’s Schengen Zone, a benefit that would potentially solve everything from his Kurdish to his Syrian refugee problem.
One watches with morbid fascination as a skilled, once-restrained politician loses all sense of proportion as his power grows, reaching the point where vanity drives his demand for these constitutional and anti-terrorism baubles.
This is no minor matter but points to Erdogan’s likely political demise as he edges toward making one error and one enemy too many.