AMANDA – Turkey — a non-democratic democracy

Turkey — a non-democratic democracyTurkey would be better off without a Recep Tayyip ErdoIan presidency, although the chances of this happening seem slim With current polls estimating him to have between 43 and 53 percent, the real issue is whether he will win in the first or second round.Since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was first elected in November 2002, ErdoIan has morphed into a very different type of politician, leading a very different type of party with a narrative and ambitions that are far from those that were declared back in 2002.

During his almost 14 years in office, ErdoIan has led Turkey towards greater levels of democracy, civil liberties, economic growth and international recognition, only to stop halfway and lead the country back in the other direction: grinding down the rule of law and fundamental freedoms and rights and pursing an often self-defeating and isolationist regional foreign policy.To underline this fact, last week Forbes magazine had an article titled andldquoThe New Wave of Elected Dictatorships Around the World.

andrdquo Turkey is listed along with a number of other countries, including Georgia, Egypt, Iraq and Russia, which are labeled as andldquonon-democratic democracies.andrdquo The author writes that all these states have one thing in common: andldquo[T]hey all have elected leaders yet virtually every other aspect of their governance structure looks a lot like authoritarianism run rampant.

andrdquoThe piece then goes on to list their commonalities, including andldquomedia owned by the leaderand#39s cronies economy dominated by same opposition politicians constantly harassed, prosecuted, or in danger of prosecution state and religion hand in glove judiciary pressured to comply with governmentand#39s diktat independence of educational institutions relentlessly subverted corruption ubiquitous in state institutions free markets victimized by political expediency foreign NGOand#39s scapegoated.[andhellip] almost invariably the countryand#39s woes get blamed on sinister outside conspirators, usually the US.

andrdquoUnfortunately, Turkey meets many of these points. I find the fact that Turkey is compared to Russia and Iraq deeply disturbing.

The issue of Turkeyand#39s lack of free media is very worrying and has becoming very evident during the campaigning for the Aug. 10 presidential election as it is obvious the election campaigns have not been carried out on a fair playing field.

ErdoIan also has his own media, while also having a significant foothold in many other media outlets via his andldquonetwork.andrdquoThese media outlets act as if they are ErdoIanand#39s propaganda tools.

They do not make any political reports or comments other than praising ErdoIan or criticizing his rivals. There is absolutely no impartiality.

Hence ErdoIan is a permanent fixture all the time. For example, ErdoIan announced his presidential candidacy live on 28 channels.

The other two candidates, Ekmeleddin IhsanoIlu and Selahattin DemirtaI, are barely visible in comparison. For example, while national broadcaster TRT — which is supposed to be impartial — has given vast coverage to ErdoIan, the other two candidates have barely been seen.

Only on Aug. 3 was DemirtaI finally given a slot.

I also find many of the statements and speeches of senior AKP officials very disturbing and counter-productive. In fact, it is almost as if they purposely say things to create more tension and increase the polarization in society.

While we have grown accustomed to ErdoIanand#39s flamboyant and often outrageous comments, the number of his colleagues making openly provocative remarks and speeches is on the rise. How can it be that a senior AKP politician can make a speech about andldquomoral corruptionandrdquo in which a vast chunk is dedicated to the etiquette and chastity of women?What business is it of Deputy Prime Minister Bulent ArIn to tell women that they should not laugh out loud in public? ArIn is a politician, employed to run the country and serve the people, not dictate to them His comments are like something out of the Dark Ages and it is very difficult to understand the logic of such a statement which is guaranteed to spread anger While the Quran does talk about chastity for women (and men), it does not lay out in strict details a precise interpretation.

Furthermore, one should take into consideration in which epoch the Quran was penned.An ErdoIan presidency, which will further boost his already-massive ego, risks a further regression of democracy and further polarization of society.

However, with the parliamentary elections in 2015, there is still an opportunity to challenge this non-democratic democracy and reset Turkeyand#39s political landscape.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman