Examining the AKP victory
The November 2015 election brought a landslide victory to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), increasing its vote almost nine points in 5 months. This surprising comeback would be hard to explain in an ordinary situation where such drastic shifts in voting in a short time period would not be expected. However, it …
The disintegration of majoritarianism through elections and social protest
During the summer of 2010, as I was strolling in Lower Manhattan with my 75-year-old mother, we came upon Professor Andrew Arato at a café. At the time, he was gaining quite a bit of notoriety in my home country of Turkey with his substantive and significant support to the old-guard elites in their battle against constitutional amendments proposed by the moderately Islamist, procapitalist ruling party, AKP (Justice and Development Party). …
In the aftermath of the killings at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, critical voices have largely been drowned in the general sea of undifferentiated outrage. But this statement by French colleagues, which recently appeared in Le Monde, is a major intervention and a welcome exception.
The Rojava Cantons
In my previous article I wrote about how both soft and hard Islamists render a very dark future for the Middle East. I finished my article by stating that the Kurdish Movement may provide a salient alternative for the whole region. However, this alternative is currently under attack by Islamists and its supporters.
As I write this article, ISIS thugs surround the northern Syrian city Kobanê — also known as Ayn Al Arab. While both the Kurdish guerilla group PKK, Syrian arm PYD and some factions from the Free Syrian Army are desperately fighting to keep ISIS out of town, the situation is getting worse by the day. Turkey is reluctant to open its borders for humanitarian and military assistance, and so help ISIS to take over the town. …
One year on from the Gezi Park protests in Turkey
Our colleague, Zeyno Ustun, is back in Istanbul this month. We corresponded about the situation there on the occasion of the anniversary of the Gezi protests. She reports political paralysis with maximum police presence and sent a report from Amnesty International that she judges to summarize the situation accurately. Zeyno came across the following piece in Revolution News. It is re-posted here with permission. –Jeff Goldfarb
The repression of peaceful protest and the use of abusive force by police continues unabated one year after the Gezi Park protests.
Across Turkey, more than 5,500 people have been prosecuted in connection with the Gezi Park protests. …
A prominent political theorist, Judith Shklar, once said that the rule of law has become “a self-congratulatory rhetorical device”  used by the politicians, who try to legitimize whatever they do just by uttering the word “the rule of law.” I think we can say the same thing for democracy as well. In Turkey, every political party aims for democracy. Even the military suspended democratic politics with the claim of saving it. The Gezi protests are accepted as an instance of democratic politics, and Erdogan sees himself as the gatekeeper of democratic politics allowing no one in. What I am trying to do here is to provide a perspective from which we can analyze the AKP (the Justice and Development Party) and its relation to democracy on the one hand, and the impact of the Gezi, on the other. In doing this, I will draw on three thinkers and their ideas of democracy, namely Carl Schmitt, Claude Lefort and Jacques Ranciere.
1. This, the current Constitution of the Republic of Turkey is no longer the same constitution, the Constitution of 1982. Yes, even partial, but sequential or re-iterated rounds of amendment can produce a new constitutional regime or material constitution. This is what happened in Turkey through amendment rounds in 1987, 1995, 2001, and 2004. It was under European pressure in the first decade of the 21st century that the demand for formal constitutional replacement was adopted by Turkish political actors, supposedly in the place of the method of sequential amendments. Was the idea of an entirely new, civilian constitution wrong? No, for two reasons. The first is the problem of legitimacy, caused by tainted origins. This problem undermines the necessarily preservationist review function of the Constitutional Court. The second is the problem of freezing. Some features of constitutions, though formally changeable, are never sufficiently altered in reform, because incumbents significantly benefit from them.