Turkey’s 2023 presidential election and Western Media anti-Erdogan Sentiment

The Turkish people are currently betting their fate and future on the ballot box in the 2023 Turkish Presidential Election. Turkey held presidential elections on May 14, 2023, with two strong candidates left, Recep Tayyip Erdogan with 49.54% of the vote and Kemal Kilicdaroglu from the opposition party with 44.88% of the vote, and will continue in the second round on May 28, 2023, to determine who will be Turkey’s next number one.

The narrow vote acquisition sparked a fascinating conversation about Erdogan’s current status, which is under difficulties. Erdogan has led Turkey since 2014, with considerable improvements in the country’s government, economy, and society by restoring the image of Islam on Turkish land. However, in recent years, Erdogan has led Turkey into a serious economic crisis and a decrease in currency exchange rates, which has prompted alarm among Turkish citizens.

Erdogan’s powerful leadership has garnered global notice in international news stories. In the Western media landscape, Erdogan is frequently portrayed as an authoritarian figure who is cruel and anti-democratic, and of course, the Western media has been successful in shaping public opinion, which influences public perception, resulting in a negative image of Erdogan in the eyes of western society.

According to McCombs and Shaw (1972), the mass media not only reports on events but also dictates public attention to specific concerns. In this environment, Western media coverage of Erdogan’s administration is critical since it has the ability to alter popular perceptions of his policies and leadership.

Then, how did the Western media portray Erdogan’s administration while it was in charge, and what impact would the 2023 general elections have on Turkish and worldwide public opinion?

Western Media’s Approach to Erdogan’s Administration

We must consider the numerous perspectives that are present in Western media coverage of Erdogan’s leadership. Against the backdrop of the Erdogan administration’s policies, Western media frequently highlights delicate problems such as human rights, freedom of speech, and democracy. The coverage is generally critical of the government’s policies.

Some Western media outlets, such as The Economist, The Washington Post, and the BBC, highlighted the Erdogan government’s activities that were considered autocratic and harmed freedom of expression with narratives that were full of unfavorable images of Erdogan. They decried the persecution of opposition groups, the detention of journalists, and the restriction of media freedom. Several media outlets have also highlighted the incarceration of a large number of journalists who have criticized Erdogan’s dictatorship.

Furthermore, the Western media frequently focuses on Erdogan’s leadership in foreign policy, particularly in relations with the European Union and Turkey’s role in the refugee issue. They routinely criticize Erdogan’s human-rights positions and handling of the migration issue, which might influence negative perceptions of his administration.

And, lately, during the 2023 Turkish general election, magazines such as France’s Le Point and L’Express, as well as the US-based Foreign Policy magazine, wrote articles critical of Erdogan and doubting the fairness of the impending election.

Looking at the negative international news narratives, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized the bias of the Western media that portrayed Erdogan terribly, which is of course very unfortunate because it can influence public opinion, which can affect the result of general elections, and the Menvut too asked the media to respect the principle of the media not to side and refrain from spreading false information.

A better understanding of the Western media’s coverage of the Erdogan administration would help us understand its impact on world perceptions and the implications for Turkey’s relations with Western countries. It also raises serious concerns regarding journalistic ethics and the media’s role in reporting on governmental policies and foreign leaders.

The Evaluation and Media Bias

According to Christoph Hst Rstel, a Middle East scholar, the Western media’s disagreement toward Erdogan is motivated by global cartels opposed to his interference in their agenda, particularly in human rights, immigration, and other collaboration. Furthermore, Christoph feels that biased Western media narratives are interfering with Turkey’s democratic process and efforts to influence election results through public opinion formation.

The media’s influence on public opinion cannot be ignored. Western media coverage of the Erdogan government has played a major role in shaping public views of policy and leadership. People are increasingly complacent with news that is not necessarily the truth, especially now that there are increasingly widespread demonstrations in Turkey demanding change, to heat up the situation in Turkey in 2022-2023, whether there is perspective debate, demanding change, or other things as a result of negative news about Erdogan.

As a result, it is crucial for us as readers to be cautious and to seek out various sources of information that can create a more balanced picture. A discussion of Western media coverage of the Erdogan administration and election season will provide an outline of how media bias may influence public opinion and change election outcomes. Regardless of whether the coverage is objective or biased, it is critical for readers to dig further and access many sources of information to acquire a more thorough knowledge of Erdogan’s policies and leadership.

The analysis of the bias and variation in Western media coverage of the Erdogan government allows us to better comprehend the intricacies of current viewpoints and recognize that there are various points of view to consider. As a result, we may generate conclusions that are more objective, not only from one perspective and are based on a larger and deeper understanding of Erdogan’s policies and leadership.

During the presidential election, the Western media focused on Erdogan’s administration. In the context of his government’s policies, Western media coverage of Erdogan tends to reflect worries about human rights, free expression, and democracy. The media frequently highlights authoritarianism, opposition suppression, and restrictions on media freedom.

However, it is crucial to realize that not all Western media coverage of Erdogan has been negative. Several media outlets acknowledged the positive achievements and successful policies. Variations in media coverage can also be attributed to differences in editorial ownership and perspectives.

The evaluation of bias and variation in Western media coverage teaches us to be critical readers and to seek a broader perspective. Seeing things from many angles and evaluating diverse sources of information allows us to build a more balanced opinion.

The media plays an essential role in shaping public opinion. The coverage of Erdogan in the Western media altered international impressions of his policies and leadership. As a result, it is critical to have access to a variety of sources of information that might provide a more full and objective view.

Nailul Fathul Wafiq
Nailul Fathul Wafiq
Nailul Fathul Wafiq is an undergraduate student of international relations at the Islamic University of Indonesia, taking an interest in international economic studies, trade and investment, international media communication, and analysis of the impact of government policy on public society. He also focuses on the dynamics and development of some regions, especially in Southeast Asia and Pacific Asia.