Evidence is growing that Turkey’s president is ailing—and that could be bad news for the country’s politics.
Since 2019, Turkey experts, journalists, and pollsters have been eyeing the Turkish general election scheduled for 2023. This is probably because the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered humiliating defeats of its mayoral candidates in Turkey’s major population centers, including Istanbul, in the 2019 local elections. Regular polling since those elections reveal that the AKP’s popularity is soft, even as it maintains a grip on Turkey’s political institutions and the media. Anecdotally, it seems that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has worn out his welcome, especially among young people.
Erdogan may indeed be vulnerable ahead of 2023—just not necessarily in the way most people think. There are signs he may be too ill to run for reelection at all.
In recent months, a series of videos have surfaced in which the Turkish leader has not looked well. Some of them are not as clear as others, but, taken together, they raise some obvious questions about Erdogan’s health. In one clip, for example, the president appears to need the assistance of his wife and an aid as he negotiates a set of stairs. In another, he seems to shuffle and have some difficulty walking at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. And, in a video that received considerable attention this past July, Erdogan seems to fade out and slur his words during a televised holiday greeting to AKP members.
At times, he has looked quite gaunt. In tandem with this footage are rumors about the president’s health—including stories alleging he has been dealing with increasing forgetfulness, bouts of breathing problems, confusion, vomiting, and the implantation of an internal defibrillator. According to these same accounts, the president has increased the number of doctors around him, reduced encounters with the press, and is being pumped up with painkillers before public events. LIRE LA SUITE