A Biden presidency for Turkey could mean more uncertainty for relations between the two countries.
For much of 2020, the US elections received little to no coverage in Turkey. Then suddenly in August, a video of Joe Biden, originally aired in January 2020 by the New York Times, resurfaced.
In the video, Biden expressed a willingness to work with the “opposition leadership” in a bid to remove Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power in the 2023 elections.
Biden’s comments drew strong condemnation across Turkey’s political spectrum and wider society as internal interference in the domestic politics of the country - something that the US has decried when carried out by Russia in the 2016 US elections.
So how important are US elections for Turkey?
“The US elections have geopolitical ramifications not only for Turkey but the whole world,” said the retired Admiral Cem Gurdeniz speaking to TRT World.
Trump’s election in 2016, shocked much of the world, and his four years in power have upended old certainties about US global hegemony.
“The Trump administration has played an unprecedented role in the last 4 years to make tectonic changes in the world hegemonic system as well as US domestic policies,” says Gurdeniz adding that Trump’s policies anti-globalisation and inward-looking policies represent a “paradigm change."
The Washington Consensus, which was a policy term that saw countries adopting the American economic model and aligning with Washington’s foreign policy interests has been in precipitous decline since the 2008 financial crises argues Gurdeniz.
Trump’s rise is a reflection of that changing dynamic and “now we are living in a multi-polar world and the US cannot re-create the same economic, political and military conditions of post-World War II,” added Gurdeniz.
“Whoever is chosen in the USA, the reestablishment of the Washington Consensus is almost impossible under the emerging multipolar world order,” says Gurdeniz adding that “I personally think that if Trump is chosen, Turkey’s geopolitical posture would be better off compared to Biden’s term.”
Under the Trump administration relations between Washington and Ankara have oscillated between acrimony over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missile system to Trump often praising Erdogan.
Trump has also been unwilling to place sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the missile system potentially averting a deep crisis between the two countries whose strategic relationship goes back decades.
Beyond the geopolitics, there is another reason the US elections are being closely watched in Turkey, says Yunus Emre Erdolen, a local Turkish journalist who has been closely monitoring the US elections and was one of the first journalists to pick up the Biden interview with the NYT in January 2020.
“Campaign methods, slogans used in elections are under close scrutiny by content producers who are in search of new ideas,” says Erdolen.
An upcoming book by Dr Taner Dogan, Communication Strategies in Turkey: Erdoğan, the AKP and Political Messaging, argues that US elections campaign strategies have played an important role in Turkey over 20 years.
In a testament to how unusual the current US elections are in their global “on social media, there are a number of users who follow and comment on the election, they follow it more closely than most Americans,” said Erdolen speaking to TRT World.
But ultimately Gurdeniz believes that any future US administration whether it is Biden or Trump should aim to “to win Turk’s hearts and minds” and also recognise that Turkey has national interests in its backyard.
“Threats of sanctions, embargoes and even bullying,” cannot be the way to deal with Turkey by any incoming US administration, added Gurdeniz.