Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

International Relations

Reader 1

Kristin Fabbe

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Julie Soo Jung Ahn

Abstract

The Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) promised a new and democratic Turkey in the 2002 general elections, and it succeeded in winning the elections of 2002, 2007, and 2011. Everyone lauded the democratization process in Turkey under the AKP, calling it the “Turkish model.” Yet, with the prolonging rule of the AKP, cracks in the Turkish democracy gradually appeared, ranging from politicized trials to media repression. The situation in Turkey continued to worsen at an increasing pace under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leading to the major Gezi Park protests last summer. The erosion of the AKP’s commitment to Turkish democracy is evident, as is Turkey’s democratic backsliding.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive landscape of domestic events in Turkey that demonstrate democratic backsliding by identifying major issue areas where this trend is most prominent. These key issues where democratic backsliding becomes most apparent in Turkey are divided into five categories: media freedoms, the judiciary, corruption and graft, the nature of the opposition, and civil liberties. These five categories will be examined through narratives, which provide crucial insight into the strategies used by the AKP to undermine the consolidation of liberal democracy in Turkey. The findings from the critical case study of Turkey can be instrumental in preventing the trend of democratic backsliding in other developing countries.

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