ISTANBUL – Since 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been governing Turkey with remarkable success in economic terms. Indeed, its record is almost unique in Turkey’s modern history, comparable only with the rule of the Democratic Party (DP), which came to power in the 1950’s, at the start of multi-party parliamentary democracy in Turkey, and ran the country for a decade.
The era of DP rule is ingrained in Turkey’s public consciousness as one of phenomenal growth and expanding freedoms. With the mandate it received in the June 12 election, and almost 42 years after the DP was deposed by a military junta, the AKP has emerged to set new benchmarks in Turkey’s development.
Indeed, unlike the DP’s leader, Adnan Menderes, who was brutally executed following a sham military trial, the AKP’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will now begin his third term as Prime Minister, appears to have secured democratic political control of Turkey’s military and bureaucracy. Both institutions’ ability to challenge the results of elections appears at an end.
Turkey’s latest transformation began with the severe economic, political, and social turmoil of 2001, which then-Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit called a “crisis of the Turkish state.” That year marked the last gasp of the authoritarian/bureaucratic regime that emerged in the early 1920’s, and that had become so isolated from the public that its legitimacy had evaporated.