Erdoğan's authoritarianism similar to examples around world - analyst

The world's political scene experiences an era in which authoritarianism is the dominant character and Turkey bears similarity to many of them, said Ayşe Kadıoğlu, a professor of political science at Sabancı University, in an article for Open Democracy.

"Today, democracies are not necessarily dying because of cultural, religious reasons and/or economic crises. They are being killed globally by a handful of political leaders who promote a new style of politics geared at the reduction of executive constraints," Kadıoğlu said.

And, seeing opposition as the enemy, a loyal civil society to government and consolidating authoritarian rule through the use of law are the shared features between those political leaders, including Venezuela, Turkey, and Poland, Kadıoğlu said.

Erdoğan has accused the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) of collaborating with the actors behind the 2015 failed coup attempt, and the co-leader of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş of harbouring sympathies for outlawed Kurdish militias.

"This is a view that undoubtedly glorifies faith in and loyalty to the incumbents over criticism and competence," the professor said, adding that political differences are represented in public in the style of "us" vs the "enemies".

Secondly, new authoritarian regimes build and promote their own civil society organisations while describing prior civil activism as unpatriotic and launching a crackdown against it, Kadıoğlu said.

For example, Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was especially encouraging the formation of women’s civil society organisations that aim to promote family values, according to the professor.

Meanwhile, representatives of Amnesty International, prominent Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala and several other civil rights activists had been targetted by the AKP. 

In an effort to consolidate authoritarian rule, Turkey engaged in three sets of constitutional amendments, in 2007, 2010, and 2017, which were all undertaken by national referendums.

"The amendments to several articles of the already strict and illiberal 1982 Constitution led to a new presidential regime devoid of basic checks and balances replacing Turkey’s long established tradition of a parliamentary regime," Kadıoğlu said.

Moreover, the changes in the constitution made it possible for Erdoğan to appoint almost half of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, leading to the dissolution of the independence of the judiciary, she said.

Despite this unfortunate scene, according to Kadıoğlu, there exist a way out of this despair. The alliance of opposition parties with significant differences in their ideological stances delivered a huge blow to Erdoğan's AKP in the recent local elections in Turkey, she said.

"It is through such victories that human agency is resurrected and without such moments of resurrection, it is impossible to keep fighting today’s authoritarian Zeitgeist."