Παρασκευή, 7 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Two alarming developments in Turkey: Road to nowhere!

Turkey is suffering from a deep political crisis. This political crisis is about to transform into a state crisis. By state crisis, I am referring to serious breakdowns in the functioning of the major institutions of an average state, such as the rule of law, the market economy and the principle of the separation of powers. All signs point to the current crisis deepening and perhaps continuing for some time, perhaps for as long as six months.
The most alarming development in Turkey is the weakening of the rule of law. The Turkish judicial system today is perplexed. There is no separate judicial police unit, so prosecutors employ regular police for legal procedures. However, after the graft investigation -- a major corruption investigation that resulted in the removal of four ministers as part of a Cabinet reshuffle -- of Dec. 17, the government has prevented police cooperation with prosecutors for any graft investigation.

So what happens now? If a prosecutor orders the police to arrest someone over the course of a corruption investigation, the police do not obey. In practice, prosecutors have turned into powerless actors. In the meantime, for pre-emptive reasons, the government keeps reassigning police officers all around the country. Since the graft investigation of Dec. 17, the government has reassigned more than 5,000 police officers. In short, the Turkish judiciary no longer seems able to initiate any kind of process against any political actor.

More alarming is a parliamentary proposal that aims to assign government-appointed governors to preside over prosecutors. If this happens, prosecutors will need the consent of their governors to initiate any legal investigation. Indeed, such a move will virtually end the rule of law in Turkey. A legal system where prosecutors report to governors appointed by the government would align Turkey with Third World countries.

The second alarming development is Turkey's deviation from a market-oriented economy. Turkey is gradually moving from a market-oriented economy to a pathological state-centric economy. All major public tenders are arranged according to the political concerns of the government. Yet the government regularly punishes market actors. Any company that is seen to have a link with an opposition movement is immediately punished. In short, Turkey is no longer a typical market economy. It is now not the market but the government that makes major economic decisions. Thus the market has become a sort of hybrid that oscillates between a market economy and a state-centric economy. The autonomous central bank is facing serious difficulty in deploying its financial instruments to help the economy, mainly because the government is making public political threats against it.

All experts today are asking whether the current policies of the government are sustainable. Authoritarian rule is theoretically sustainable, but at big costs. The first cost of suspending reality is the onset of authoritarianism. Then other costs follow, such as losing democratic allies and facing international isolation. The most dramatic cost comes later: losing social peace for citizens at home. It is sad that Turkey is in such a situation in 2014. It was only a few years ago that Turkey was declared a model of democratization!

Today, Turkey reminds one of Paul Robertson's novel, “Road to Nowhere.” Here is a short summary by Kelly Klepfer of Robertson's novel:

“[There was] a peaceful small town. The kind of place where neighbors care for each other. But that's until unexpected funding arrives to build a road into town. Suddenly, this quiet town becomes torn in two, with everybody looking first to their own interests. And somebody willing to commit murder to make sure things go their way.”

GÖKHAN BACIK (Cihan/Today's Zaman)

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