Abstract

The article investigates the main achievements and failures in Turkey’s economic and social development during the period of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) in power (since 2002). The major successes of the JDP government are related to attainment of financial and economic stability, which created a base for sustainable economic growth with the help of the increasing inflow of foreign direct investments. At the same time, the social policy of the state has become more active, including noticeable achievements in solving the housing problem. Certain positive developments were attained in the democratization process, particularly in expanding civilian control over the military elites and reducing the likelihood of military involvement in domestic political processes, as well as in terms of ethnic minorities rights recognition (primarily of Kurds). As for negative trends during the JDP period, they refer to the so called majoritarian understanding of democracy with an inevitable emergence of new social strata excluded from the official system of interest groups. This has ultimately led to the restriction of identification possibilities for secular segments of the population, who share classical values of Turkish republicanism and secularism. Such understanding of democracy has inavoidably resulted in establishing of control over media, restrictions on the freedom of speech, growth of intolerance towards the opposition, politicization of the judicial system, etc. The article also discusses tactical moves, to which the JDP elite and the President of Turkey R.T. Erdogan (who has close ties with the ruling party) have resorted in order to ensure the party's victory in the early parliamentary elections of November 2015. They took place once, prior to the June elections where JDP failed to win the majority required for forming a single-party government. Essentially, a hostage to the JDP's victory was the Kurdish problem, on which JDP had to radicalize its positions in order to get back the voices of nationalist-minded voters and, at the same time, to reduce popularity of the Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party – another competitor for electorate. But, as a result, the split between political groups in the country over disagreements on the question of democratic freedoms was supplemented by the rift between national groups. The economic situation in Turkey is also not stable enough, because its economic prosperity relied heavily on active use of external financing. The decrease in its availability due to changes in the international financial market actualizes the threat of falling into a so called middle income trap with long period of low economic growth. Therefore, although JDP had managed to re-obtain the status of a ruling party, the price of victory is high: the country and its government will have to face a number of challenges and serious problems in the economy, internal and foreign policy. The lack of capability to find a constructive response to them can lead to radicalization in the nature of political power in Turkey.

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