1 Erdogan sees new era for Turkey (BBC) Outgoing PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed his victory in Turkey’s first direct presidential election as a new era for the country. He told thousands of supporters from the balcony of his AK Party’s HQ in Ankara his victory was for all Turks, not just those who had voted for him. Mr Erdogan secured about 52% of the vote, to avoid any run-off.
Mr Erdogan wants to secure more power for the presidency but his opponents fear increasingly authoritarian rule. Until now the presidency has been largely ceremonial. Mr Erdogan has been prime minister since 2003 and was barred from standing for another term. He will be inaugurated on 28 August. The AK Party must now appoint a party leader and prime minister-designate. Analysts say it is likely to be one Mr Erdogan can control.
Striking a note of conciliation largely absent from the campaigning with his two rivals, he said: “I want to build a new future, with an understanding of a societal reconciliation, by regarding our differences as richness, and by pointing out not our differences but our common values.” The veteran leader is revered by supporters for boosting the economy and giving a voice to conservatives. But his critics lament his authoritarian approach and Islamist leanings in a secular state.
Turkey – wedged between the turmoil of Iraq, Syria and Ukraine – is an important ally for the West and the head of state will hold a key geopolitical position.
2 No end yet to the pain in Spain (Ashifa Kassam in The Guardian) Spain had created more than 190,000 jobs over the previous 12 months, its first annual increase in employment in six years, and the biggest drop in jobless numbers since 2006. The sky-high unemployment rate was beginning to ease, from 26% to 24.5%. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy could barely contain his excitement. “I have been waiting a long time – since I took office, to be precise – to give you news like this,” he said. “The labour market has made a 180-degree turn.”
The Spanish government accordingly raised its forecast for this year’s economic growth from 0.7% to 1.2%. For 2015, it was forecasting 1.8%. But just as Spain was becoming more confident in its recovery, official data from Italy showed that the Italian economy had contracted in the second quarter of 2014, putting it officially back in recession for a third time. As analysts noted, the news undermined the note of optimism in Spain’s recovery.
The Spanish economy is being buoyed by increased exports, rising domestic demand and a record year for tourism, says Professor Robert Tornabell of Barcelona’s Esade business school. He warns against reading too much into the data. While large companies are reaping the benefits of this growth, he points out, it hasn’t been sufficient to provide jobs for the country’s more than 5.6 million unemployed.
The real recovery, he says, will be when the economy begins to create jobs for young people and the 3.5 million Spaniards who have been out of work for more than a year. Until then, economic growth will be no more than empty words, particularly for the more than 740,000 families in which every working-age member is unemployed. The IMF expects unemployment to remain above 20% for another four years.
3 Pakistan in disarray (Khaleej Times) As Pakistanis gear up for a long week of political showdown, the stakes are getting higher and higher. The pandemonium that is being witnessed across the province of Punjab is too unnerving. Surprisingly enough, the two major contenders vying for street agitations against the government — vowing to bring it down by hook or crook — do not have a foolproof alternate governance strategy at hand.
This is unbecoming for any anti-government movement. This doesn’t mean that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — and especially the Punjab administration under his zealous brother — hasn’t committed blunders. The government’s biggest fallacy is that it tried to deal with a political discord in an administrative manner and have almost ended up with eggs on its face.
Now with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and the Canadian macho-cum-religious scholar Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri calling upon their supporters to march on to Islamabad on the eve of Independence Day (August 14), the state apparatus and 180 million people are in a fix. One thing is certain: Pakistan is heading towards a new episode of instability. Irrespective of the fact that the Nawaz government has not kept its promises of ushering in economic dividends and address the pestering lawlessness issues, showing it the door by breeding chaos and anarchy is uncalled for.
There are no two opinions that the electoral system and the governance process drastically need reforms, but there has to be a civil and lawful way to do that. Torpedoing the civil order is no solution to the problems of accountability and corruption that Pakistan faces. Maximalist positions are unlikely to yield desired results.