One possible take on the current situation is that Turkish liberties are eroding in a dangerous manner and the country will slide into some version of an Islamic state, through not-fully-democratic means yet sanctioned by the ballot box. A second take is that the liberties were not quite ever there in the first place, and Turkish society is moving to a more coherent and more sustainable equilibrium of state, religion, and citizen. Islam in Turkey is finding a way toward a more comfortable public space, albeit with bumps and mistakes along the way, and lasting radical secularization was never possible anyway. The rising middle class and Turkey’s historic uniqueness, and separation from the Persian and Arab worlds, will keep it on a “good enough” track. I incline toward the second and more optimistic view.
Central Turkey is more economically advanced than I had expected. It is downright nice here, and standards of living are reasonably high. Imagine the per capita income of Mexico or Brazil but with greater equality and stronger social cohesion. Food is even better than in Istanbul, namely it is spicier and has fresher raw ingredients.
Turkey will prove to be an important test case for whether a rapid influx of foreign capital can be done in a stable manner. It’s funny how a lot of the same economists who distrust a rapid capital influx in an international development context (“the hot money comes and goes”) are entirely happy to trust a rapid influx of capital into U.S. Treasury securities.