COULD two strategic wins in Turkey’s local elections indicate the beginning of the end for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan?
On Monday morning, voters were greeted by the extraordinary sight of workers tearing down victory posters in Ankara and Istanbul.
Embarrassingly, the President’s Justice and Development Party had wrongly assumed they had triumphed.
Instead, by a very small margin, the opposition CHP candidates had won in both cities.
In a country which has been dominated by Mr Erdogan’s Islamist party for 17 years, this defeat is hugely significant.
After the country’s recent slide into recession, with inflation hitting 20 per cent, the vote became a public referendum on the President.
Despite Turkey being a supposedly secular state, Erdogan has notably encouraged poorer, Islamist voters.
And these, the very people he relies on for his power base, are now finding it impossible to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, many of the entrepreneurs and financiers who once kept Turkey afloat have fled or moved their money abroad, adding to the financial crisis.
Astonishingly, for a modern, westernised country, which is a member of NATO and still harbours hopes of joining the EU, Turkey’s record on human rights is dire and, according to Amnesty International, worsening.
Since the attempted coup in 2016, it imprisons the highest number of journalists in the world, ranking above China and Iran.
Erdogan brooks no criticism of his autocratic methods, blaming ‘outside interference’.
Disgracefully, hoping to stir up religious fervour and support, he even used the New Zealand massacre footage during his election campaign.
Acknowledging after the vote that he respected the result, Erdogan nonetheless immediately demanded recounts, which will take at least a week.
I can think of a few others nearer to home who cannot accept a democratic decision, can’t you?