Open Democracy - 25 August 2014
former Prime Minister Erdoğan now firmly
installed as President and promising a new Turkey, it is time to take a fresh
look at the direction in which the country's political economy is headed. For
over a decade, international media and many academic researchers have presented the
“Turkish model” under the “moderately Islamic” Justice and Development Party
(AKP) as a success story of economic development and political democracy in a
Muslim country - made all the more attractive in an international environment
dominated by the fear of radical Islam.
2013, especially after the massive nationwide
protests in the summer of that year, this enthusiasm has left its place to
more critical appraisals. The media
coverage of the country is now dominated by statements of concern about the state
of the economy - and the increasingly authoritarian
character of the regime. The
praise, where it still persists, now has a different character. The Hungarian
Prime Minister Victor Orban, for example, recently pointed
to Turkey (along with Singapore, China, India and Russia) to argue that
non-Western countries which are not liberal democracies and “in some cases
probably not even democracies” can be highly successful in the global race.
However, Orban’s favourable assessment of Turkey’s performance as a global
actor was preceded by several alarming accounts of the economy’s
weaknesses, such as a huge current account deficit and the very high ratio
of short term debt to the GNP.