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Erdogan's Tightrope Act

Between Democracy and State Monopoly in Turkey

Erdogan near Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara, August 2005. Reuters

On June 7, Turkish voters will head to the polls to decide the future character of the Republic of Turkey. On the surface, the parliamentary elections will pit Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) against three major competitors. The real question, however, is whether the ballots will supply the AKP with 330 parliamentary seats, which would give the party a supermajority and would allow Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s three-time prime minister and now president, to change Turkey’s constitution and establish what he calls a “Turkish-style” presidential system. Such an outcome would stand a high chance of rolling back the country’s democratic advances ushered in by the AKP’s original 2002 electoral victory.

Erdogan, who held the prime minister’s post from 2003 to 2014, seeks to transform his new position, currently largely ceremonial, into a role as the country’s chief administrator. He would have

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