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Turkey's Erdogan Has Found a Cure for Coronavirus

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Nothing seems to quench the authoritarian thirst for power, not even the greatest global health epidemic of the last 100 years. For some leaders, the COVID-19 global pandemic is an irresistible means to either gain additional power or consolidate it further, while silencing those who dare criticize the incumbent's handling of the crisis.

It is well known that China’s attempt to muzzle news of the pandemic while it was still in its infancy contributed to the global crisis. Elsewhere, in Hungary, for example, Viktor Orban, the country’s staunchly and proudly illiberal leader, cited the spread of the coronavirus to pass legislation that not only put the country in a state of emergency, but also effectively handed the domineering prime minister the legal power to curtail press freedom, replace existing laws through decree and hand out lengthy custodial sentences to those who break curfew.

In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, U.S. President Donald Trump’s favourite East Asian leader, has used the global pandemic to declare a national emergency, abrogating to himself powers which, although designed to tackle the coronavirus, assure him additional budgetary powers and even the ability to take over private companies.

And then there is Turkey. Once hailed a model country for democratic reform, Turkey is now an example for authoritarian-minded leaders to follow. The country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not need the global pandemic to grant himself emergency powers – he already did that after the 2016 coup attempt, which was followed by a national state of emergency in which he purged his political........

© Haaretz

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