• In the 22 years under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AK Party, Turkey has suffered an earthquake claiming over 50,000 lives and an ongoing economic crisis which sent inflation to its highest level in 2022 in the last 24 years.

    Neither crisis has resulted in the fall of the regime.

    The results of last year’s Presidential election held three months after the earthquake is a further indication of Erdoğan’s strength. Support for the Turkish head of state reached 76 percent in earthquake-hit Kahramanmaraş city, and 52 percent in the country as a whole. For his supporters, even if Erdoğan makes mistakes, only he can correct them. According to a poll conducted last year, 90 percent of AK Party voters thought the government’s post-earthquake performance was successful.

    Erdoğan is perceived as a powerful leader who takes care of the needy. His supporters deeply trust him. Many conservative people feel accepted and respected under the Erdoğan regime for the first time.

    Trust among the majority for Erdoğan has been engendered by the economic prosperity of the AK Party’s first years in office, and social welfare for the poor. Investment in highways and airports have contributed to the image of a “powerful Erdoğan”. Developments in defence manufacture, such as the production of the Bayraktar drone used by Ukraine, and the news in local media about its praise in foreign countries is a source of pride among Erdoğan supporters.

    At the same time, the government has cracked down on the opposition and free media, and the AK Party has built a huge media machine which acts as a mouthpiece for Erdoğan. With such limits on freedom of expression, it is hard to persuade an electorate that the end of Erdoğan is not the end of the world.