Courts in Turkey generally bow to the wishes of the country’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This is unsurprising, given his purges of judges and prosecutors during his two decades in power. So last week’s court verdict sentencing Istanbul’s popular opposition mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, to more than two years in jail and banning him from public life followed a familiar pattern.
That this decision was politically motivated goes without saying. Little of importance happens in Erdoğan’s Turkey without his direction or consent. In short, a working-class populist who began life as a reformer fighting for social justice has developed into a cantankerous, dictatorial bully.