Turkey’s Journey to Democracy and Freedom

Turkey’s Journey to Democracy and Freedom

 By Begum Burak

In Turkey, enormous changes have been taking place both in domestic politics and in foreign policy issues. It should be noted that, it is not so hard to observe the positive changes and transformations Turkey has been going through in the last years. Since 2002, Turkey has been ruled by a single-party government (The Justice and Development Party –JDP) which has made a considerable amount of contribution to Turkish democracy via EU reforms and some other policies. On the other hand, it is also obvious that the steps that have been taken are not enough. Turkey has a long way to go for further democratization. In this context, the first and foremost need for Turkey for a more enhanced democracy and a more enlightened society is to have a new civilian constitution.

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What Really Interests You: Turkish Democracy or the Arrests?

by Begum Burak

Turkey has been going through a major transformative process in both its political and state system the last couple of years. Undoubtedly, the Justice and Development Party (JDP) has seen both challenges and opportunities in terms of making Turkey more democratic and liberal. First and foremost, the cross-class electoral support of the JDP makes the party relatively enhanced against the opposition parties and the Kemalist state cadres which have been uncomfortable with the victory of the JDP. On the other hand, the European Union membership process plays a key role for Turkey in the road towards more democracy. However, as the party has begun to get incorporated into the state machinery more and more, it has started to feel alarmed by its own promises towards more democratization. In this context, one thing must be made clear: while JDP is adopting a more pro-state attitude (through for example exercising a soft rhetoric over the military), is in fact putting itself in a paradoxical position. This position is nowadays obvious in the party’s reluctance in fulfilling its promises towards more democratization and liberalization.

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The Justice and Development Party as a Litmus Test for Turkish Democracy

Begum Burak

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images  Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan.

In 2002 elections, Turkey’s political landscape witnessed the victory of a brand new political establishment: The Justice and Development Party (JDP). The JDP was founded in 2001 by a leading figure of the closed Islamist Welfare Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan was the ex-mayor of Istanbul and an active actor in Islamist politics in previous years. However, his political career was interrupted by the state establishment in which the military and the judiciary have a crucial role). He was sent to prison because of a poem he read. Ironically, that poem which led to his imprisonment was written by Ziya Gokalp who had been one of the key ideologues of Ottoman-Turkish modernization.

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