A crucial time for Turkey: changes, politics and society after the failed coup  

Thursday, 27 October 2016 11:02
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by Valeria Sforzini
EPOS Insights


It is curious to see how easily a State can completely change its direction through politics and government and, at the same time, how much it takes for a country to develop from an economical and social point of view. Turkey can be considered as a clear example of this contradiction, as for so many years it has struggled with plans and development programmesin order to be taken into account for a EU membership but, with the events happened during a night, it has drastically changed its future by revealinga complete inversion of route. There were so many indicators that could have raise the suspect that Turkey was trying to find its own way towards Islamism and extremism, but also many other actions were consolidating the idea that the state was moving slow but resolute to reach the European powers.

Passing from representing the main example of a modern Islamic state and the living proof that religious beliefs and progress can coexist, to beingthe leading force of a cultural reshaping in a fundamentalist way, is an outstanding provocation and a declaration of power. Turkey is becoming an increasingly authoritarian stateand its political structure is becoming more and more unclear. Turkey can be defined as a semi-presidential state with the president elected by the people (even though it is still not specified in the constitution) but with the co-existence of a prime minister and of a council of ministers that relies on a parliament for the consensus.

In this sense, the substitution of Ahmet Davutoglu with the Akp loyal member and only candidate, Binali Yildirim, will guide the country under the complete control of the President. Recently, Erdogan has affirmed his intention to actively lead the country: "A president elected by the people cannot be like the previous ones. As the head of the executive, the president uses all his constitutional powers. If I am elected president, I will also use all of them. I won't be a president of protocol."When the notice of the attempted coup came out, many different questions arose and the entire imaginary about Turkey of the European and Western Countries was subverted.

Few years ago, not a long time before this July’s events, walking through the streets of Istanbul was offering everyday life’s scenes that could have been common to many European cities, in a good balance with a strongOriental influence and masterpieces of Islamic architecture.  Tourism, culture, openness, young boys and girls in occidental clothes strolling around after a university class, old men sitting in cafes drinking coffee, boat trips around the Bosporus with the Muezzin call to prayers in the background.

It’s clear, now, that Turkey won’t ever be seen in the same way again. It still hard to explain how was it possible for Erdogan to turn an insurrection against his government into his favour. If a political supremacy can be bore and opposed, the absolute influence that the government is exerting over the people is touching every aspect of their life, and contrasting it would inevitably be linked to go against religion. How is it thinkable for the younger generations to accept such limitations of their present and future life, is something that, from an external point of view, is hard to understand.

For example, even though the veil for women is not compulsory yet, the majority of people would strongly recommend it, LGBT rights are not considered a priority and are hardly taken into account. A country cannot be considered open to a modern society if homosexuality is still considered a perversion, and if the government suspends a pacific manifestation, the biggest gay pride of the Muslim world,because a group of young nationalists considersit a degeneration of immorality. After the scandals emerged in the last months about the rapes and abuses carried on by some soldiers over Syrian refugees, on the organizers of the coup and on the sympathizers, the proposal of banning the definition of “sexual abuse” for sex practiced with children in the age between 12 and 15, it’s hard to think about a radical change towards development.

Freedom of expression is not granted anymore, neither freedom of association, nor the freedom of the press. With the shut down of more than 130 medias among newspaper, radio stations and TV channels, and the decree issued for closing more than two thousands institutions, including schools, charities and medical centres,the ultimate, scary threat regards the reintroduction of the death penalty. This act, which spread an alarm situation in the Western world,would let the government get a rid of all his opponents and to eliminate any kind of contrast in the most radical way. The problem is that, even though a part of the population seemed open to embrace progress and to stand for liberty against this government, all of a sudden, everyone seemed prone to give its support to Erdogan and no one was anymore ready to admit a different way of thought.

Maybe the answer to this question lays in the coup, maybe the fear of being judged by the police or by the society played a decisive role in this ambiguous political game, maybe the western societies gave Turkey more openness that it was able to stand. Was Turkey really ready for a Republic? Has it ever really changed its nature? If the answer to these questions is no, then the premises to the failure of this coup and to the set of the ultimate reforms were just smouldering under the ash and the road to freedom is still long and arduous.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s

Last modified on Monday, 31 October 2016 11:12
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