Turkey to begin four-day lockdown

Turkey today begins a four-day nationwide lockdown. The move contrasts recent efforts toward reopening the economy; the contradiction is a

Masked people in front of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP

Turkey today begins a four-day nationwide lockdown.

The move contrasts recent efforts toward reopening the economy; the contradiction is a sign that the government is facing a dilemma on whether to prioritise public health or the country’s economic wellbeing in the short-term.

According to official reports, newly reported COVID-19 cases are on the decline and death rates have remained relatively low. As such, the government has launched a normalisation plan seeking to end stay-at-home orders by June.

Despite the ongoing lockdown and calls by the opposition to keep shopping malls closed, expect President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, compelled by political considerations, to continue pushing for a reopening of the economy. The looming economic crisis threatens to weaken the voter base of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) at a time when the president’s power has already been challenged by a loss in the June 2019 Istanbul elections and the split of many long-time allies from the AKP. Erdogan’s ambitious foreign policy goals in Syria and Libya, from which he seeks to draw much support, are also contingent on the country’s swift economic recovery.

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