Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan, a man whose self-aggrandising style of leadership has already been coming in for increasing criticism, outdid himself in his victory speech following Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Sometimes public figures push themselves to a place beyond parody. This was Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the ‘Democratisation’ Category
For the past week, Turkey has been convulsed by the decision of the country’s electoral board (YSK) to prohibit a group of Kurdish independent candidates from participating in June’s general election. The YSK’s ruling prompted a political crisis as well as angry protests in which one young Read the rest of this entry »
On June 12 Turkey’s electorate will go to the polls in the country’s 17th general election. In each of the last two elections, in 2002 and 2007, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has emerged as a comfortable winner. It is all but certain to do so again this year. There are risks to this forecast, but they have Read the rest of this entry »
Returning to consider Turkish affairs after some months spent focusing elsewhere has been sobering and disheartening. The early months of 2011 were always going to be important, setting the tone both for a general election that will be held in June 2011, as well as, crucially, for the drafting of a new constitution thereafter. Without undue optimism Read the rest of this entry »
This is the first of two posts on political financing in Turkey. In the second, I’ll look at a range of problems relating to the way in which private donations are regulated. First, however, I want to outline the workings of the system that provides (some) Turkish parties with significant sums of public money.
According to Article 69 of Turkey’s constitution, “the state shall provide the political parties with adequate financial means in an equitable manner.” (“Siyasi partilere, Devlet, yeterli düzeyde ve hakça mali yardım yapar.”) The key piece of legislation that fleshes out this principle is the Law on Political Parties (2820), which, unfortunately, compounds democratic deficiencies Read the rest of this entry »
There were few surprises in the European Commission’s 2010 progress report for Turkey, which was published on November 9th. On the issue that has most divided Turkey over the past year—the effect of September’s constitutional reforms on the judiciary—the Commission’s report formalises the cautiously optimistic line that many international observers have taken. First, it welcomes the reforms as “a step in the right direction.” Second, it qualifies that welcome by noting that the “implementation of the amended constitutional provisions through legislation, in line with European standards, is key.”
I have a few reservations about this formula. For one thing, I think that the phrase “through legislation” could usefully be removed from the second quote in the paragraph above. Yes, legislative change is an integral part of any Read the rest of this entry »
What makes for a high-quality democracy? If we could answer this question satisfactorily, we would be well placed to deal systematically with some of the perennial questions of Turkish politics (what are the country’s democratic shortcomings? which reforms should it prioritise?), and to assess the various proposals for constitutional reform that will be forthcoming in the months and years ahead. Fortunately for us, there’s a growing amount of work being done in this area.
In 2003, Larry Diamond and Leonardo Morlino brought together a group of democratisation experts for a research project on the quality of democracy. The project’s aim was to identify the characteristics that distinguish high-quality from low-quality democracies. In the book that resulted from their project, Assessing the Quality of Democracy, Diamond and Morlino identify eight different dimensions on which democracies vary in quality. In this post, I’ll provide an outline Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most striking things about Turkey at the moment is the fact that although its politics revolve increasingly around the notion of democratisation, the level of debate about what democracy might actually entail remains extremely underdeveloped. This leaves politicians far too much leeway to define the term for themselves, and to proceed from there with a democratisation process crafted so as to dovetail conveniently with their interests.
As has been the case in many areas, the governing AKP has resoundingly outperformed its rivals in this definitional endeavour. With ruthless efficiency (and cynicism) they have hollowed out the idea of democracy until there is little left but an assertion that the reins of government should be in civilian rather than military hands.
The logic this facilitates would appear to run as follows. Democracy is good. Democracy requires civilian rather than military rule. We are civilian rulers with no ties to the military. Therefore we are democratic. Therefore what we do is good. (It’s not so much “l’état, c’est moi” as Read the rest of this entry »
Last week’s release of the 2010 edition of the annual Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index made for more uncomfortable Turkish reading. Turkey was placed in 138th position in a list of 175 countries, down from 99th position in 2002 when the index was first published and when Turkey’s current AKP government first came to power.
Another index of press freedom is provided by Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report. In the table and chart below, I’ve summarised Turkey’s performance on this index between 1994 and 2010. I have also included a few other (rather haphazardly selected) countries for the sake of comparison.
My reason for dipping into the Freedom House index was to look for ratings that stretched further back than Reporters Without Borders, in order to get a sense of whether Turkey’s performance changed significantly with the emergence of the AKP in 2002. According to Freedom House, the answer Read the rest of this entry »