Turkey among increasing autocracies masquerading as democracies - analyst

Countries such as Turkey, Venezuela and Russia are a new breed of autocratic regimes appearing as a democracies which maintain power through centralised control over information and resources while curtailing political opposition, wrote Richard Carney, Professor at China Europe International Business School for the Conversation website.

So-called “dominant party authoritarian regimes,” such as that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), have increased in number from around 13 percent of all countries before the end of the Cold War to around 33 percent today, Carney said.

Even though these countries’ capitalist systems have some of the trappings of liberal democracies in the West, the article highlighted, they use capitalism to further their authoritarian rule.

“Part of the danger with dominant party authoritarian regimes is that their veneer of democracy permits political opponents to run for election. But when incumbent rulers face a threat to their power, the autocrats often respond by targeting political dissidents and taking aggressive actions toward foreign enemies to bolster popular support,’’ the article noted.

Zooming in on Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the article at his repression of domestic political dissidents following the failed July 2016 coup against him.

Pointing out that Erdoğan’s regime arrested or suspended “more than 110,000 officials, including judges, teachers, police and civil servants,” the article stressesd that Turkey’s strongman has gone after foreign-based dissidents, too.

Ankara has pursued a worldwide crackdown on members of the Gülen movement, which it accuses of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt and designates a terrorist organisation.

Despite winning the June 2018 presidential election and ushering a new executive presidential system, Erdoğan continues to threaten critics, including NBA star Enes Kanter, who declined to travel to London in January 2019 out of fear of being targeted by Turkish intelligence.

Dominant party authoritarian regimes exploit Western legal and financial systems against Western media outlets critical of the regime, it said, noting that he such regimes either “sue the media or they buy them.’’

Another way that such regimes function is through resource control, Carney wrote, explaining that ’state-controlled businesses in dominant party authoritarian regimes often comply with international financial regulations. This helps them gain access to Western countries’ corporate and financial systems.’’

This allows for autocratic leaders to  pursue political objectives through legitimate business operations, he wrote, albeit with less scrutiny.