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Ersin Kalaycıoğlu | How and Why Turkey has Drifted Away from Democracy?

Events | Headline and Cultural Forums

Turkey— a bridge between Europe and Asia— is a pivotal state whose domestic political, economic, and social developments have important implications across the globe. The recent coup attempt not only stunned the world but unleashed political events that threaten to take Turkey further away from Western democracies and place it in the camp of a more pronounced authoritarian system. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used the crisis as an excuse to launch a sweeping purge that has impacted tens of thousands over a wide cross-section of Turkish society, concentrating power in his hands, and permitting members of his cabinet and loyalist journalists to accuse the US of supporting, if not instigating, the failed coup. When taken together, it becomes clear that Turkey is the new hot spot in the region that policy makers in the West can no longer ignore. The implications of what transpired in Turkey suggests a potential nightmare for Turkey’s relations with the West, the future of liberal democracy in Turkey, and regional stability in the greater Middle East. In light of these events, it is pertinent to ask:

  • How is it possible for a country that was once a model of democratic development in the Muslim world to fall apart in a matter of a decade?  
  • What are the underlying causes of this breakdown of democracy in Turkey?
  • Could Turkey slide into a civil war that would pit Kurds against Turks, secular citizens against Islamists, and Sunni Muslims against Alevi Muslims?

Copresented with the Middle East Studies Center and Center for Turkish Studies, Portland State University

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