No.21 Beyond the Democratic Paradox: The Decline of Democracy in Turkey
This paper provides a close look at Turkey’s experience with democratic backsliding and argues that at different stages of this process, different structural and agential factors contributed to the decline of democracy in the country. It takes a “synthetic” theoretical approach--one that highlights the role of political actors, economic relations, political institutions and the importance of strategic coalitions, in understanding the gradual process of democratic erosion. The paper argues that the agential factors were important both in precipitating the decline and deepening it. Meanwhile, economic relations and weaknesses of institutions allowed the strategic coalitions to shape the process. The experience of backsliding in Turkey makes us aware that academics must also take into account the role of duplicity in the process, for the full picture of democratic decline is fashioned through a complex web of opportunism and deception.