The future of democracy in Turkey. 2014 local and presidential elections

On May 5, 2014, INCIPE organized a Work Breakfast under the heading, The future of democracy in Turkey. 2014 local and presidential elections, focusing on the Turkish pre‐electoral atmosphere. D. Ihsan Yilmaz, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fatih University in Istanbul, was the guest speaker who carried out this reflection.

Professor Yilmaz thanked INCIPE and La Casa Turca, which is an organization whose purpose is to create a fraternal bond with Spanish civil society, for jointly organizing the event. The measure is part of a series of events that Ihsan Yilmaz will attend in various areas of Spain to create a climate of understanding about the true situation in Turkey on a political, civil, and religious level to facilitate comprehension of the upcoming elections.

The speaker pointed out in his introduction that the present is as important as when Turkey declared itself a secular, united, constitutional democratic Republic. He indicated that the future elections are determined by many elements at play. A clear example is the discrimination of religious groups, most obviously the Christians who are a minority in Turkey, which obligates the creation of a pact of cooperation for everyone. Definitively, the priority is to restructure the separation between right and religion.

Another issue that was brought up is the existence of an increasingly dominant oligarchy in power, yielding corruption within state structures. Without neglecting the enormous concentration of powers that Erdogan seeks, comparable to Putin, it emphasizes the absence of checks and balances between the branches of the Turkish state.

Yilmaz attributes the period between 2004 and 2008 to the paralysis of the process of democratization in Turkey. Although the Referendum of 2010 reformed the Constitution, a new text amending the judiciary would strengthen civil rights and trim military privileges. The only positive achievement during this period is considerable economic growth (10% of GDP in 6 years).

Turkey has 50 million voters, is the second power in NATO, and 95% of its citizens have been recognized as pro‐Western and pro‐Atlanticist. It is a large source of tourism on an important global level, and it possesses privileged relations with the UE and the United States. Because of this, Yilmaz believes that the elections in the approaching month of August, other than being an internal theme of consideration, have a far‐reaching international repercussion.

Juan J. Roldán Martínez

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