Word out of Turkey suggests an attempted coup in progress. While analysis rather than advocacy, I wrote last March about the possibility that a coup could be on the horizon. Any coup is lamentable, but Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is no democracy. Back in 2010, I wrote a long article for COMMENTARY here about just how Erdoğan had transformed Turkey.

Here are the things to remember:

  • Turkey has a history of coups, but the military has never sought to retain power but, rather, have always sought to return it after making constitutional adjustments/recalibrating the balance of power.
  • Over the course of his 13 years in power, Erdoğan has completely transformed the bureaucracy. He has changed education and inserted his own people deep in the bureaucracy. Undoing this will be no easy feat, especially since Erdoğan has a clear constituency of perhaps 50 percent of the population.
  • That said, with the exception of Atatürk, and his Republican Peoples Party (CHP), no political party has managed to last the removal or death of their charismatic leader.
  • The military needs to be introspective. The reason why so many Turks sided with Erdoğan and against the military is that they had lost touch with the Turkish public.
  • The opposition is no panacea. Turkey’s political party laws allow every political party leader to run his or her party like a dictator. Democracy and accountability is sorely needed well beyond the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Whether Erdoğan stays or goes, it’s important to get democracy back on track. Turkey needs checks and balances. There is no substitute for government accountability.

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