The Long Winter: Turkish Politics After the Corruption Scandal

COVER1On December 17, 2013, a major corruption investigation launched by Istanbul district prosecutors hit the news. The police raided the houses of fifty suspects who had been followed for more than a year, including the sons of three Turkish government cabinet ministers.

Mustafa Gurbuz argues that this event and its aftermath, coupled with a tense election campaign, ushered in a new era of politics in Turkey replete with unprecedented developments. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reframed the corruption scandal as a global plot to overthrow his government, orchestrated by “external” and “internal” enemies. The government tried to stop the corruption investigation and related leaks by resorting to controversial measures that subdued the judiciary, controlled the media, expanded the powers of the intelligence agency, limited internet access, banned social media, and suppressed opposition.

Despite the AKP’s comfortable win in local elections on March 30, 2014, Erdoğan maintained his confrontational style and went on to further controversial measures. This suggests that the political deterioration Turkey experienced after December 17 was not just election fever, but rather a more comprehensive transformation that will, apparently, mark Turkish politics for some time to come.

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