With over 20,000 dead, can President Erdogan Survive Turkey’s Earthquake Politically?


Monday’s massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in south-central Turkey, in which at least 20,000 have died — and probably tens of thousands more — has shocked that country and the world. It inescapably has political implications, with Turkish parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for mid-May.

President Tayyip Recep Erdogan is facing widespread criticism for the slowness and inadequacy of the government response. Stung by the criticism, he briefly cut off Twitter in the country to prevent the spread of what he called “misinformation.” That move, however, backfired, because many aid workers and victims were using Twitter to help locate and rescue people. They let the government have it with both barrels, and Erdogan’s people backed down.

Older residents of cities such as Gaziantep, write Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Isil Sariyuce, Zeena Saifi and Reyhan Baysan for CNN, are resentful over having paid an earthquake tax since the last big one in 1999. They complain that nothing was done with all that money to shore up buildings in preparation for the next large seismic event. They imply that the money was spent for other purposes by Erdogan and his government.

The government also stands accused of not ensuring that the improved building standards after the 1999 earthquake were actually implemented by builders….