Is a coup really looming in Turkey?

14 May 2020
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate Turkey’s economic turmoil, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has found itself accused of coup incitement in a fresh onslaught by government members and crony media led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The harshest accusation came May 4 from the top seat of power after a Cabinet meeting that Erdogan chaired via video conference from his presidential mansion in Istanbul, where he has been staying during the pandemic. Erdogan was expected to focus on the government’s “normalization” plan to ease pandemic restrictions, but instead he spent a good part of his speech raging at the main opposition.

The CHP, Erdogan said, represents “a fascist mindset that cannot stomach the supremacy of the national will, democracy, justice and elections and is still yearning and burning for tutelage, coups and juntas.” The CHP’s actions are guided by “a desire to usurp the country’s administration through a coup rather than coming to power through democratic means,” he charged, adding, “This is what the picture tells us when you sum up the statements of CHP leaders in the past week alone.”

While the president did not name the CHP leaders he slammed, a review of recent CHP statements turned up no remark to corroborate his claim that the party is seeking to “usurp the country’s administration through a coup.”

Yet judging from the claims of the government’s mouthpieces and media, a statement revealing “a yearning for a coup” does exist and it belongs to Canan Kaftancioglu, the CHP chairwoman for Istanbul. In April 29 remarks to Halk TV, an opposition channel close to the CHP, Kaftancioglu said she expected “a government change and even a change in the [governance] system through early elections or some other way in the coming period.”

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