Academic freedom is at stake in Turkish elections, researchers warn

A crowd at a political rally in Turkey waving Turkish flags and a banner with the face of President Erdogan

Source: © Sercan Ozkurnazli/dia images via Getty Images

Future path of universities as institutes of free inquiry may rest on who wins

A lot is hanging on the outcome of the presidential elections in the Turkey this weekend, academics in the country are saying. At stake are issues like the governmental appointment of university rectors, the reinstatement of professors expelled during the state of emergency, control of academia by the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) and a growing brain drain.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been in power since 2003 – first as prime minister, than president – took the lead in the first round of voting on 14 May. His opponent Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu leads a broad opposition coalition that has seriously challenged Erdoğan’s dominance for the first time in two decades. A coalition of right-wing parties that collected 5% of the votes in the first round may be kingmakers.