Rethink Institute, Washington DC
On December 17, 2013, a major corruption investigation launched by
Istanbul district prosecutors hit the news. The police raided the houses
of fifty suspects who had been followed for more than a year, including
the sons of three Turkish government cabinet ministers.
Mustafa Gurbuz argues that this event and its
aftermath, coupled with a tense election campaign, ushered in a new era
of politics in Turkey replete with unprecedented developments. Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reframed the corruption scandal as a
global plot to overthrow his government, orchestrated by “external” and
“internal” enemies. The government tried to stop the corruption
investigation and related leaks by resorting to controversial measures
that subdued the judiciary, controlled the media, expanded the powers of
the intelligence agency, limited internet access, banned social media,
and suppressed opposition.
Despite the AKP’s comfortable win in local elections on March 30,
2014, Erdoğan maintained his confrontational style and went on to
further controversial measures. This suggests that the political
deterioration Turkey experienced after December 17 was not just election
fever, but rather a more comprehensive transformation that will,
apparently, mark Turkish politics for some time to come.
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