In the twentieth century, the world has witnessed how many authoritarian rulers used a democratic form of government in order to come to power, and then implemented a personal dictatorship in its place. Symbolically, many of these dictators used failed coup attempts or ineffective parliaments as a means to begin a witch hunt by introducing a state of national emergency, thereby restricting the democratic institutions of their government and society.
In recent history, President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated this in front of the leaders of the European Union, under the connivance of Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, modern followers of Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier. For many years both Merkel and Hollande did nothing, and further went on to engage in political appeasement, beginning in August 2008 during the Russian aggression against Georgia, and then in 2014, after the Russian annexation of the Crimea and the occupation of south-eastern Ukraine.
Unfortunately, under the leadership of President Erdoğan, Turkey now follows the same path, repeating the same mistakes. The latest events following the bloody attempted coup d’état are clear proof of this. The West has played its role in this too. Instead of permitting Turkey to enter the European Union 11 years ago, they have instead pushed hard against this, which has led to a dramatic decrease in the proportion of Turkish citizens who are pro-accession into the EU from 75% to 20%. This decrease thereby strengthened the parts of Turkish society that are opposed to the Kemalism ideologies founded by Mustafa Kemal Alaturk when he was the first president of the Turkish Republican and the founder of the modern Turkish state.
However, the tradition of democracy in Turkey has a greater foundation than in Russia, and therefore the transition from the democratic government to an effective autocracy will be harder for Erdogan to execute than it was for President Putin. Erdogan also faces many supports of secularism in Turkish society, which is one of the main foundations of Kemalism. As such, in the near future Turkey and Turkish society will have to find answers to very complex issues and the way Turkey accomplishes this task will depend greatly on the lives of millions of citizens of this country. In the words of one wise man: “History has a way of playing cruel tricks on those who chase it.”
Ramis Yunus – political scientist, former Chief of Staff of the Government and former Chief of Staff of the Parliament of Azerbaijan.