Observing the decline of Turkey’s democracy


Several recent analyses depict Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is set to meet with President Trump in the White House on Tuesday, as a once moderate and liberal politician who suddenly swerved away toward authoritarianism, notes Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author ofThe New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey.”

“I could not disagree more. Erdogan, who has run Turkey since 2002 either as prime minister or president, was always bent on subverting Turkey’s secularist democratic system,” he writes for The Washington Post.

Reporting on Turkey told Patrick Kingsley about how its autocratic president is seizing power, The New York Times adds.

We should expect no substantial discussion of the 150 journalists detained in Turkey on misleading or bogus charges, or the elected politicians from peaceful pro-Kurdish parties who remain behind bars, notes Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch. Also unlikely to be on the agenda: The fate of the 50,000 people swept up on overly broad terrorism charges, or even the more than 100,000 civil servants permanently dismissed with no right of appeal, she writes:

In the name of snuffing out the coup plotters, Erdogan’s government has shuttered news outletsjailed journalists and opposition party members, and purged thousands upon thousands of government employees. The actions intensified a crackdown on free speech and expression that had been underway for quite some time. In April, a landmark referendum changing the Constitution formalized Erdogan’s consolidation of power, undermining the role of courts and parliament as checks and balances on the president.

Collusion by the Turkish media compounds the country’s crisis, writes Andrew Finkel (right), a former Reagan-Fascell fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group:

Despite the pervasiveness of social media, Turkey’s strong governing party now controls the public discourse like never before, by systematically exerting control over privately owned media and crowding out a more pluralistic press. Previous Turkish governments often defied international media standards, yet the current regime does so with impunity and within its own definition of democratic norms.

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