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Turkey’s grim prospects

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I do not agree with the many critics of Turkey that the danger facing the country is dictatorial rule.

Nevertheless, I don’t have good news either. I think that we should consider the worse scenario that Turkey could slide into chaos regardless of the result of the referendum.

First of all, it seems that the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) will do everything to ensure a result in favor of “yes.” Even if the majority still votes for “no,” I don’t think the current government will take it easily. I have no idea what will follow in that case, but I am sure that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a contingency plan like calling for new elections, since the referendum is considered a milestone of the New Turkey project rather than an ordinary poll. Besides, we know what happened when the governing party lost its majority in the June 2015 elections.

If the majority votes for “yes,” it may seem that it will be a problem only for the opposition, since the president and his supporters will win the day and live happily ever after. Indeed, it seems that there will be nothing to stop the uninhibited use of power with further legal sanctity and that this will be the end of the story. Turkey will look more like other authoritarian states, such as the Central Asian Turkic republics, for example, among others. Nevertheless, Turkey is too advanced and complex a country to sustain a modern or post-modern dictatorship. First of all, in terms of the economy, it is not only that Turkey lacks the natural riches to support authoritarian rule, but its economy is far too advanced and interdependent to afford isolation from the Western world.

As for politics, even if Turkey has never been a model democracy, its democratic political experiment is in advance of many other non-Western countries. That is to say that Turkey’s democratic practice has not been strong enough to hinder the authoritarian swing, but its democracy cannot easily be replaced by dictatorial rule without falling into a crisis of governability. Finally, Turkey’s society is far more plural and liberal than many other non-Western societies. Regardless of the rise of religious and nationalist conservatism, Turkey has a large middle class with liberal values. Secular liberals remain a minority, but their numbers........

© Hürriyet Daily News