Category Archives: Turkish Current Events

April 08

The March 31 Events: Making Sense of the 2019 Elections

I avoided political rallies this year, but they were hard to ignore. On Sunday, March 24, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its coalition partner, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), held a rally in Istanbul at the massive meeting grounds in Yenikapı. The grounds are perfectly positioned along the coast, beside one of […]

March 27

All Politics is Local: Turkey, 2019

  Turkey will hold its local elections on March 31. It has been five years since the last ones and, at that time, the story in foreign coverage was that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had its back to the wall, “struggling” following major protests and major corruption allegations.[1] With the exception of […]

June 28

Shocks and Aftershocks from the 2018 Elections

In the run up to Turkey’s June 24 national elections, foreign coverage was well summed up by articles with titles like “The End of the Erdoğan Era?” (not, of course, to be confused with the article “End of the Erdoğan Era?” from 2015, or the one from 2013). But it wasn’t just foreign observers: citizens […]

June 25

Turkey’s Back to the Future Opposition

With the economy worsening, Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has decided to hold elections a year earlier than planned. Since the June 24 date was announced, however, the lira has fallen 5% relative to the euro and 12% relative to the dollar. If the trend continues, the government could conceivably lose its absolute […]

October 20

Party Building

    After thirteen years in office, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş resigned on September 22, following a seemingly minor dispute with his fellow Justice and Development Party (AKP) legislators in the municipal council. The suggestion that his resignation was a “personal” decision—unlikely from the start—has become less tenable in the following days as two more […]

October 07

Laboratory of Democracy? Turkey’s Scientific Institutions After the July 15 Coup

Since Turkey experienced a failed coup attempt a year ago, hardly a week goes by without news of new firings, suspensions, detentions, and arrests. By the end of June 2017, over 138,000 government employees had been removed from their jobs and over 110,000 citizens had been detained—with nearly half of these detentions leading to formal […]

April 19

Reading the Black Sea Tea Leaves: Post-Referendum Analysis

Speaking before supporters, celebrating yet another electoral victory, President Erdoğan sounded many familiar themes: he promised to serve the nation rather than be its master; he emphasized the historic nature of the referendum and the heroism of those who had voted in support of his priorities; and he ended by leading the crowd in a […]

February 22

Who’s Left: Filiz Kerestecioglu and the Struggle for Rights in Turkey

On December 10, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the most right-wing of the opposition parties, submitted legislation to parliament that would do away with the office of prime minister, increase the president’s power over the judiciary, and remove parliament’s authority to investigate the executive branch.[1] That same evening, forty-four people were […]

August 01

Some of the President’s Men: Yıldırım, Davutoglu, and the “Palace Coup” Before the Coup

  When Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on May 27, 2016 that he would return all the gifts he had accumulated during his eventful nineteen months in office, the media had barely settled into referring to him as “Turkey’s former prime minister.”[1] Just a month earlier, no such end was in sight for Davutoğlu—in fact, he seemed […]

November 04

All Politics is Local, 2015: Ill Tidings for the Turkish Opposition

Provinces matter in Turkish elections. Understanding why is crucial for appreciating the scale of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) victory on November 1 and the true significance of the elections. Turkey has eighty-five electoral districts—essentially one for each of the country’s eight-one provinces with the largest three provinces (Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir) split into […]

October 30

Eastern Promises Squandered

On October 26, with less than a week remaining before the November 1 elections, a civil court in Ankara ruled that the holding company Koza-İpek and its subsidiaries should be placed under trusteeship while the firm was investigated for involvement in “FETÖ,” a allegedly sprawling terrorist organization headed by Fethullah Gülen, an imam living in […]

August 24

Men of State: Devlet Bahçeli and the MHP

In the aftermath of Turkey’s June 2015 elections, there was great excitement at the showing made by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP). In the months that followed, however, it became clear that the party and its youthful, multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian, leftwing cohort of legislators would not be setting the tone in Turkish politics: that power […]

December 16

The Shoebox is on the Other Foot: Turkey’s Year of Retaliation

Which date is more useful for explaining the arrests of prominent Turkish media figures that occurred on December 14, 2014: April 4, 2009—when the Turkish religious leader Fethullah Gülen first issued a broadside against the “Tahşiyeciler,” a small religious group that opposed his interpretations of scripture—or December 17, 2013—when prosecutors and police connected with Gülen’s […]

August 10

Alo, Presidente!

On a warm Sunday in March 2014, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held his largest rally ever. The location, Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square, was a purpose-built public meeting venue along the Sea of Marmara. The rally was the first to be held in this new space. The entire project was controversial. From the beginning, there […]

Saving the AKP

Bekir Bozdağ, Turkey’s new Justice Minister, spent his first several months on the job performing duties more reminiscent of an emergency room surgeon than of a nation’s top law-enforcement official. It could hardly have been otherwise: when he assumed the office on December 25th, his party was badly injured with little sense of how to […]