Anger over Erdogan’s response to Turkey earthquake – Politico

As the death toll rises after a devastating earthquake in Turkey, so does the political danger for the country’s leader.

Opposition politicians are openly blaming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for not preparing the country for the disaster, as well as for slow relief efforts that they say have been worsened by the state’s failure to cooperate and coordinate with local authorities and relief efforts. organizations

Anger is growing as Turkey faces a presidential election that marks the end of Erdogan’s 20-year rule.

“They have failed in this as they have failed in everything else, they do not know how to run a state,” Kemal Kilisdaroglu, leader of the main opposition CHP party, said. “If anyone is responsible for this process, it is Erdogan. This ruling party has not prepared the country for earthquakes in 20 years.”

Erdogan’s handling of this humanitarian crisis could affect the outcome of the election. The then government’s failed response to the massive earthquake in northwestern Turkey in 1999 gave Erdogan’s AKP party an opportunity to gain popular support.

A Turkish official told Reuters on Thursday that authorities may consider postponing this year’s elections because of the earthquake.

“It seems we have come out of election time. We will watch the developments, but at the moment there are serious difficulties in holding elections on May 14,” the official said. Some opposition politicians believe that the elections will eventually go ahead despite the delay.

The death toll in Turkey has risen to 19,388, and around 77,711 have been injured.

Earlier this week, Kılıçdarooglu visited several areas affected by the earthquake, where residents complained about the lack of efficient search and rescue operations.

Critics say Turkey’s national fund for natural disasters was instead spent on highway construction projects run by government allies. The buildings that collapsed in many areas were constructed as recently as the early 2010s or the past few years, and generally should have followed earthquake codes after the 1999 disaster.

Emergency teams are struggling to reach some of the affected areas, with broken roads, bad weather and a lack of resources and heavy equipment, as some areas have no fuel or electricity. The centralization of Turkey’s government means several restrictions are placed on how aid agencies can operate, hampering rescue efforts.

Some survivors said they were stranded in freezing temperatures, without food or water, while others reported that although they heard their loved ones trapped under the rubble, no rescuers came to help free them.

On Thursday, three days after the earthquake, Erdogan visited some areas and promised financial aid of 10,000 lira (€494) for each affected family, while social housing would be built for all survivors within a year.

He also admitted that “of course, there were (incomplete) errors” because “it’s not possible to prepare for such a disaster”, but “things are now back on track.” And he hit back at critics of the state’s response.

“Some unscrupulous, unscrupulous people are making false statements like ‘we didn’t see any soldiers or police.’ Our army and police are respected. We will not allow the disrespectful to speak their minds like this,” he said.

On Friday, however, Erdogan admitted that the search and rescue operation could have been faster.

“Although we have the largest search and rescue team in the world right now, it is a reality that the search effort is not as fast as we would like,” he said.

“We will rebuild these buildings within a year and return them to the citizens. When we do that we will rent to citizens who don’t want to live in tents,” he added.