The Failure of the AKP’s Total Transformation Project

In the last two years, a number of advocacy groups and international organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters without Borders (RWB), Council of Europe (CoE), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have published reports highlighting the deteriorating press freedom in the country. Most recently, RWB’sPress Freedom Index 2013, placed Turkey in the 154th place among the 179 countries included in the study, marking a new low for Turkey’s democracy. Finally, ideological and political transformation;  the polarized and demoralized opposition in Turkey is strident in its criticism, bereft of the political imagination required to put forward its own policies, and lacking in the sort of balance that is required if its criticisms are to be respected as constructive contributions to the democratic process. It is especially suspect for the most secularized segments of Turkish society to complain about an authoritarian drift in AKP leadership when it was these very social forces that a few years earlier was virtually pleading with the army to step in, and hand power back to them in the most anti-democratic manner imaginable.  Instead of taking justifiable pride in the great Turkish accomplishments of the last decade, the unrestrained hostility of anti-AKP political forces is generating a sterile debate that makes it almost impossible to solve the problems facing the country or to take full advantage of the opportunities that are available to such a vibrant country. It needs to be appreciated that Turkey viewed from outside by most informed observers, especially in the region, remains a shining success story, both economically and politically.

The trajectory of AKP’s policies is undeniably one leading to a less democratic Turkey where more power is concentrated in fewer hands. Perhaps the best evidence for this is AKP’s campaign to imprison, without public trials or evidence, military officers, journalists and writers who have expressed opposition to Erdoğan. All one needs to do in order to see AKP’s agenda is to connect the dots along this trajectory.

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