Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Turkey: One year after the coup attempt, Erdogan has set up an autocracy. By AHMET İNSEL

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faced down an attempted military coup in July 2016. But far from reinforcing democracy, in the year since then he has used the state of emergency to institutionalize an elective autocracy, writes Professor Ahmet İnsel.

The proclamation of a state of emergency in Turkey on 20 July 2016, four days after the abortive coup there, has paved the way for the general rule of arbitrariness. The government, by violating the limits imposed by the constitution on the jurisdiction of the state of emergency, has since then used this exceptional power to purge the administration of undesirable elements and to close schools, universities, newspapers, foundations and associations by simple administrative fiat, without any legal procedure.

The outcome of the repression has been very heavy: more than 130,000 civil servants fired or suspended, including a quarter of teachers; 53,000 people imprisoned; accusations of torture during interrogations; relatives of the suspects forbidden to travel abroad, etc. Taking advantage of the state of emergency, the government has started to reshape the state to complete the process of merging the state and the AKP (Justice and Development Party), a process that has been going on for several years. The head of state, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, used the failed coup d’état of 15-16 July 2016 to set up a counter-coup regime whose repressive scale has been growing steadily for a year.

The counter-coup regime also allowed it to force through parliament a draft constitutional amendment, prepared on the run and with the unexpected support of the leader of the extreme right-wing Nationalist Action Party (MHP). This Sunni-nationalist alliance, which was formed after 15 July, in particular to quell Kurdish claims in Turkey and in the region, gave the green light to the establishment of a hyper-presidential regime with an elected president of all powers, including control of justice and the possibility of governing by decree.

These constitutional amendments were submitted to the referendum on 16 April 2017 and approved by a very small majority... read more