The chavista model of the modern autocracy – dismantle democratic checks and balances while simultaneously keeping a democratic façade by winning elections – is possibly our only remaining non-traditional export. Case in point: Turkey, where thousands are currently protesting Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “dictatorship.”
This Foreign Policy piece has some interesting, distressingly familiar background. The money quote:
“By 2012, Erdogan presided over the 17th-largest economy in the world, had become an influential actor in the Middle East, and the Turkish prime minister was a trusted interlocutor with none other than the president of the United States. Yet even as the AKP was winning elections at home and plaudits from abroad, an authoritarian turn was underway. In 2007, the party seized upon a plot in which elements of Turkey’s so-called deep state — military officers, intelligence operatives, and criminal underworld — sought to overthrow the government and used it to silence its critics. Since then, Turkey has become a country where journalists are routinely jailed on questionable grounds, the machinery of the state has been used against private business concerns because their owners disagree with the government, and freedom of expression in all its forms is under pressure.
In what was a surreal scene – but sadly one that was altogether unsurprising to close observers of Turkey — CNN International on Friday was covering the protests live in Taksim while at the very same time CNN Turk, the network’s Turkish-language affiliate, was running a cooking show as the historic heart of Turkey’s largest city was in enormous upheaval. This dynamic of Turkish press censorship and intimidation, in which media outlets critical of the government are targeted for reprisal, has resulted in the dismissal of talented journalists like Amberin Zaman, Hasan Cemal, and Ahmet Altan for criticizing the government or defying its dictates. This type of implicit government intimidation is unreasonable in an allegedly democratic or democratizing society.”
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