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With social media, middle classes in Brazil, Turkey grow stronger, angrier
Question of the Day
The Rousseff administration, however, is in a difficult situation, as it faces the challenge of managing an overheated economy and inflation driven largely by global capital movement, Ms. Lawson-Remer said.
In Turkey, the police crackdown on the protesters marked a turning point.
The protests turned into an “expression of frustration with a prime minister who has become increasingly paternalistic and authoritarian,” said Kemal Kirisci, director of the Center on the United States and Europe’s Turkey Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“In an ironic way, [the protests are] a product of the success of this government in helping to develop a stronger middle class, especially the highly educated section of the middle class that lives in the cities. … The government’s failure to hear their voice and the adoption of policies that these people feel are strangling their individualistic liberties,” Mr. Kirisci said.
“The same game is now being played over Brazil,” Mr. Erdogan told supporters in the Black Sea coastal city of Samsun. “The symbols are the same. The posters are the same. Twitter, Facebook are the same. The international media is the same. … It’s the same game, the same trap, the same aim.”
Mr. Erdogan may have compromised on his development plans for Gezi Park by throwing the matter to the courts, but he has been largely dismissive of the protesters.
“The message that is given is ‘If you have any problems, wait until the next election.’” Mr. Kirisci said.
Such an attitude has done little to dent Mr. Erdogan’s popularity.
Mr. Erdogan is popular among Turkey’s more recently urbanized middle class that supports his Justice and Development Party, said Hugh Pope of the Istanbul office of the International Crisis Group. The party “has been an incredibly effective government,” he said.
Mr. Pope described the protests in Istanbul as “happy, spontaneous, humorous” events, and that the participants were “mainly concerned with the way the police was so ruthless in putting down the protests.”
Arab Spring effect
In Turkey’s neighborhood in the past three years, regimes have toppled as they used force to put down the pro-democracy protests of the Arab Spring.
“The current protests suggest a need for a serious reorientation in some of [Turkey‘s] economic and political priorities and strategies, but Brazil’s democratic government is not under threat,” Ms. Lawson-Remer said.
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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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