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Managing Democratization: Achievements and Limitations in AK Party Era

During its first two terms (2002-2012), AK Party adopted a range of constitutional democratization reforms connected with the EU accession process covering issues such as: freedom of thought, faith, expression and assembly, the legal and practical improvements regarding the Kurdish issue, opening process on the Alevite question, a new libertarian stress and vision on minority rights, and diminishing, even eliminating, the prerogatives of the military. Nevertheless, since 2013 there have been big challenges triggered both by internal and external developments, which have caused a rippled path for democratization. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive documentation on the question of democratization on the one hand and a holistic assessment and perspective of the current situation, on the other.

Managing Democratization Achievements and Limitations in AK Party Era
Resisting the July 15 coup attempt, people gather on top of a Turkish army tank at Atatürk Airport in İstanbul on July 16, 2016. DEFNE KARADENİZ / Getty Images

 

Conceptual Frame and Turkey’s Stand

When reviewing the near political history of modern Turkey, it will be substantive to notice that Turkey has had a long path towards gaining the institutional democracy it now enjoys, passing through breakdown periods caused by coups every ten years consistently in its short history of the multi-party rule since 1950. Thus, referring to Huntington’s classification on waves of democracy,1 Turkey has suffered much in attaining the transition from an authoritarian centralist pattern to a regime based on principal tenets of democracy. In his coding, the democratization has been a nonlinear process, as waves of democratization have been followed by reverse flows in successive periods, the transition from the single party has symbolized a fluctuant path due to the settled perceptions of political culture in Turkey which have conventionally been of an undemocratic nature.

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Call for Paper | Politics of the Balkans and Future Perspectives