Turkey’s Islamist Democracy
Turkey reformed its constitution over the weekend, in what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised “will go down in history as a turning point in Turkish democracy.” But there’s strong disagreement over which way it’s headed.
My New Atlanticist post “Turning Point in Turkish Democracy” rounds up the commentary, which is divided over the extent to which we’re seeing strengthening of democracy and the rule of law, the strengthening of Erdogan’s cult of personality, and the decline of secularism in Europe’s only Islamic democracy. My inclination is that we’re seeing all three.
A trusted friend who has just returned from one of his regular visits to Turkey tells me that the polarization is getting worse and that the “pressure on the parts of population that are not ostensibly practicing their Muslim faith will increase every day.”
While I share this concern over the move away from secularism in Turkey’s politics, I’m mostly concerned about what it signals about Turkey’s commitment to not only Western values but the West itself. There are a lot of worrisome signs in this regard, including recent polls showing a radical dropoff in Turkish support for joining the European Union.
So far, at least, the U.S. government is publicly dismissing these concerns. Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, maintains that the bilateral relationship is “very important and strategic” and went so far as to proclaim, “We don’t have such an open and ongoing dialogue with any other country in Europe.”
Much, much more at the link.