June 14 2013
photo by newsonline/Flickr.com
This commentary appeared on U.S. News & World Report on June 14, 2013.
The spontaneous protests in Turkey, which began in Istanbul and have spread to over 70 Turkish cities, have raised serious questions about Turkey's political stability and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's leadership.
The demonstrations began as a spontaneous protest against the Erdogan government's decision to build a shopping mall and a replica of former Ottoman army barracks in Gezi Park in Taksim square. However, they have mushroomed into a broad protest that transcends the traditional political cleavage between secularists and Islamists that has dominated Turkish politics in recent years.
The protests reflect a deep-seated sense of political frustration and discontent, particularly among the young and middle class, two groups that have paradoxically been the main beneficiaries of Erdogan's policies over the last decade. These groups are likely to play an increasingly important role in Turkish politics in the future.