Coup attempt in Turkey accelerates drive towards an authoritarian state

The Guardian reports: In the aftermath of the Turkish coup attempt, the country’s parliament delivered an ode to democracy that represented an extremely rare display of unity between the government and opposition parties.

“It is precious and historic that all party groups in the parliament have adopted a common attitude and rhetoric against the coup attempt,” the assembly said in a statement on Saturday. “This common attitude and rhetoric will add to the strength of our nation and national will.”

The moment of solidarity, built on shared repulsion at the prospect of another military intervention in Turkish politics, was fleeting. Once he had regained his footing, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan showed no signs of gratitude to opposition parties whose condemnation of the attempted putsch contributed to the speed of its collapse, describing the failed coup as a “gift from God” that would allow a thorough purge of his enemies.

If the abortive coup does provide Erdoğan with the momentum he needs to achieve his central goal of changing Turkey’s constitution and concentrating power in a dominant presidency, it could have long-term repercussions for the country’s political stability, and consequently for its economic prospects and its place in the world, not least as a bastion of Nato’s south-eastern flank.

“We would have liked Erdoğan to use this as an opportunity for a more open democratic society, but the rhetoric has been one of vengeance,” said Hişyar Özsoy, an MP and spokesman on foreign affairs of the leftist pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic party (HDP).

The HDP’s unexpected success in elections last year presented a significant obstacle to Erdoğan’s constitutional ambitions. Since then, the president has sought to link them to Kurdish militants, lifting their parliamentary immunity and pursuing HDP members in the courts. “We expect this coup attempt to lead to even greater repression,” Özsoy said.

For the time being, the post-coup purges ordered by Erdoğan have been focused on alleged followers of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamic scholar. However, the scale of the crackdown, with more than 6,000 detentions, and the targeting of the judiciary in general and the constitutional court in particular, suggest to many observers that the aim is to use the passions raised by the abortive coup to eliminate the last vestiges of independence in Turkey’s justice system. [Continue reading…]

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