Generation Z puts pressure on Turkey’s Erdogan

Currently, everyone in Turkey is talking about “Generation Z” — a term that refers to those young people born around the turn of the millennium. It is a generation that knows no other Turkey than one ruled by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP). And it is also a generation of digital natives who like to spend lots of time on social media.

The group recently got Turkey’s attention as the result of an obscure political decision that moved the date for the country’s annual college entrance exams — an existential test that youth across the country cram for every year — up a month, from late July, to June 27-28.

Students were furious because they suspected the move was nothing more than a gimmick to benefit the country’s ailing tourism industry, which has been is crisis mode since the coronavirus first hit. Students say the plan is to get them to go on vacation — despite the ongoing threat of infection — since they will be finished with studying a month earlier than planned. The Turkish government denies such accusations.

Youth increasingly uneasy

“It’s awful that the economy and the tourism industry are being given priority over our health,” says 19-year-old Asli from Ankara. She took the test for the second time and says she was under a lot of pressure to do better this time.

“We’re in a situation where we just don’t know who to trust anymore,” says Fatih, also a student from Ankara. Fatih says it was unclear if the test would really be rescheduled or not, adding, “This is Turkey, anything can happen.”

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