The EUROPP team take a look at some of the latest developments in Brussels and across Europe
Turkey’s presidential election
On 10 August Turkey will hold presidential elections, with the country’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, seeking to win over 50 per cent of the vote in the first round and avoid the need for a second round of voting scheduled for 24 August. This will be the first time that Turkey has directly elected its President – under the previous system, the President was chosen by parliament.
The Monkey Cage previews the election, noting that Erdoğan currently holds a lead in the opinion polls over Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the candidate of the two main opposition parties, although it is unclear whether he can clear the 50 per cent mark in the first round. Meanwhile The Economist writes that while few people are anticipating that Erdoğan will fail to be elected, the real issue at stake will be whether he can bring about an increase in the executive and legislative powers assigned to the President. The President’s existing powers are relatively limited, but Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) currently lacks the two-thirds majority in parliament required to make constitutional changes.
Russia responded this week to sanctions imposed on the country over the Ukraine crisis by placing a ban on food imports from the United States, the EU, Canada, Australia and Norway. Open Europe assess what the likely effect of the sanctions will be on western economies, while Ian Bond at the Centre for European Reform argues that in addition to economic sanctions, the EU should focus on some of the other tools it has at its disposal, such as countering the Russian media portrayal of the Ukraine crisis and the crash of flight MH17 through its own media.
Elsewhere, Christopher Granville at Project Syndicate questions why the United States, the EU and Russia are refusing to push for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as strongly as global powers are arguing for a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine crisis. He argues that while a negotiated halt to the violence is extremely difficult to maintain in Gaza, it would be far more workable in eastern Ukraine because the situation has a number of genuine diplomatic solutions available.
Sticking with Israel-Palestine, Coralie Hindawi, writing at the e-international relations blog, discusses whether the so called ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine – which establishes that states must protect their population from ‘genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing’ – should apply to the role of Israel in the crisis. The article notes that while other authors have previously argued that it is difficult to apply the concept to Israel-Palestine because it does not constitute an ‘inter-state’ conflict, from an international law perspective it would still be a useful starting point in the search for a peaceful solution.
Meanwhile Ahron Bregman at The Conversation argues that short of a change in Israel’s rules of engagement, a high number of civilian casualties in Gaza is inevitable. He writes that although only a comprehensive peace deal can end the violence entirely, piecemeal restrictions on the use of heavy artillery in densely-populated areas would have a significant impact in reducing casualties in the short-term.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.
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