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A thread on the #TurkeyElections and a short history of democracy there, especially for non-Turkophiles:

1. Turkey has elections (often, and with extremely high, extremely enthusiastic turnout), but is not a democracy. This is quite new.
2. Experts disagree over when exactly this 'exit' occurred, but most agree that elections can no longer result in a change of power (on a national level; there are many cities & provinces administered by opposition parties). Elections are unfair, and if need be, partially rigged.
3. Starting in 1950, Turkey had regular, competitive elections. It was considered an illiberal "military-tutelage" democracy, with regular coups, and after the 1980 coup, a National Security Council (MGK) held monthly meetings essentially dictating government policy.
4. Furthermore, the judiciary, bureaucracy, military, economy, civil society (which was tiny before 2000s) and cultural life were dominated by various factions of Kemalists (followers of Turkey's founder), and, especially after the 1980 coup, by various religious orders as well.
5. The early years of the reformist AKP (early 2000s) saw the end of military tutelage and blossoming of civil society, though always with illiberal, authoritarian tendencies not far beneath the surface.
6. After 2007, the (radical for their time) reforms teetered off as AKP (itself increasingly dominated by Erdoğan) consolidated its power. A few years later, press freedom and civil rights starts gradually declining, and Turkey becomes what experts call a "delegative democracy."
7. This democratic backsliding increases after the 2013 Gezi protests, and then explodes after the 2016 coup attempt. The previous year, political scientists already start to announce Turkey's "exit from democracy" following the unprecedented "repeat elections" (Nov. 2015).
8. The ruling AKP controls executive, legislative, judicial branches of government, as well as almost all media, and its supporters dominate the economy. Remnants of obliterated civil society & media are subject to arbitrary arrest. A major political party has been criminalized.
9. So what is Turkey then? It's certainly not a fully authoritarian country like North Korea or Turkmenistan. It still has elections and opposition parties. Thus, many experts contend that the proper categorization for Turkey is in fact "competitive authoritarian regime."
10. Turkey still differs from many neighbours in important ways, but most are now being reversed. Its sizeable, well-educated, globalized middle class is leaving. Its internationally-competitive higher education and once-vibrant civil society are being systematically destroyed.
11. However, despite all this, Turks are accustomed to free elections, which are still widely considered essential, unlike in many other authoritarian countries with no memory of free elections. And this is why elections are still seen by Erdoğan as a vital source of legitimacy.
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