Originally published in The World Post
By John Esposito
AIC Honorary Board Member
The death of former Turkish President Süleyman Demirel in the same month as Turkish parliamentary elections emphasizes the fact that there have been significant changes in Turkish politics in recent years. Demirel's political career followed a military coup that deposed the Turkish government in 1960 and resulted in the execution of a democratically elected prime minister, Adnan Menderes, on charges of undermining the constitution. In 2015, widespread opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's plans to make considerable changes in the constitution resulted in his political party losing a notable number of seats in parliament, not his execution.
Many people, inside and outside of Turkey, see the results of the June 2015 elections as a confirmation of the strength of democracy in Turkey. President Erdoğan's political party, the Justice and Development Party, lost many parliamentary seats, although it remained the largest party in the assembly. The vote is interpreted as a rejection of Erdoğan's plan to amend the constitution to grant more powers to the president, which many viewed as a step toward a more authoritarian political system. However, Erdoğan and the AKP prime minister and party head, Ahmet Davutoğlu, quickly confirmed that they accepted the election results and would begin work on creating a new government. Ahmet Davutoğlu stated, "Our people's decision is final. It's above everything and we will act in line with it."Read More