From the perspective of comparative democratization studies Turkey constitutes an unusual case. It is an example of a “second wave” democracy. The transition from the single party, soft-authoritarian regime of the inter-war period was accomplished several decades ago in the 1950s. Yet, in spite of major reform experiments, notably during the course of the early part of the past decade, democracy remains far from being consolidated. Indeed, international comparisons such as data based on Freedom House Surveys tend to classify Turkey as a “hybrid regime,” whose standing is significantly low compared to many third wave democracies in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.1 In retrospect, Turkey has succeeded in terms of establishing “electoral” or “procedural” democracy, but has failed in terms of generating “substantive” democracy based on a genuinely pluralistic political order. Turkish society and politics remains deeply divided and there are increasing concerns voiced by liberal intellectuals both at home and abroad about the endurance of authoritarian elements in the Turkish political system, going even as far suggesting that the differences between Erdoğan’s Turkey and Putin’s Russia may not be as clear-cut as they may have appeared only a few years ago.
Sharing Power: Turkey’s Democratization Challenge in the Age of the AKP Hegemony
After a major wave of democratization over the last decade, the stalemate in Turkey’s reform process and the rising concerns about ‘creeping authoritarianism’ under the ruling AKP government attracted the attention of many scholars. How could Turkey manage to achieve substantial progress in democratization over the last ten years and why has the current government lost its reformist spirit? This article seeks to answer these questions by developing a multi-dimensional, holistic approach that tries to integrate structures and actors, domestic and external forces, rather than single-mindedly focusing on certain aspects whilst downplaying other crucial elements.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, The Prime Minister of Turkey. AA / Nail Kadirhan
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