Skip to main content

Turkey: Fears of Illiberal Democracy

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s recent comment citing the separation of powers as an “obstacle” has worried Turkey’s liberal democrats, writes Mustafa Akyol. 
Protesters are blocked by Turkish soldiers as they try to march to a court house near Istanbul December 13, 2012. Thousands of Turkish secularists protested outside a court near Istanbul on Thursday against the trial of nearly 300 people charged with attempting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government. Security forces wielded batons and fired pepper spray to keep crowds behind barricades in front of the courthouse at the sprawling Silivri prison complex, where dozens of the de

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan made a public remark that gave shivers to Turkey's liberal democrats. After complaining about the obstacles that Turkey's archaic-minded judiciary has raised against elected governments, he took on something more fundamental: “Time and again,” he said, “the obstacle we face is this thing called separation of powers.”

In the next few-days, senior names in Erdoğan’s party spin-doctored this comment. What the prime minister actually opposed, they explained, is the judiciary’s overstepping into the political realm — such as blocking the privatization of state companies out of a commitment to “Atatürk’s principle of statism.” About a week later, Erdoğan himself confirmed that his intention was to condemn not the separation of powers, but its misuse.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.