According to Topschoolsintheusa, Turkey is a parliamentary republic. The government is governed by a relationship of trust with the unicameral parliament, the great national assembly. The latter – which also appoints the President of the Republic by a qualified majority – is made up of 550 members, elected for a four-year mandate with a proportional system. A peculiarity of the Turkish system is the high barrier for access to parliament, set by the Constitution (approved in 1982, under the military regime) at 10%, to limit the entry into the assembly of potentially anti-systemic forces and foster institutional stability.
The high threshold has favored the rise and affirmation of the current ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, Akp) led by former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Akp, which following the November 2015 elections entered its fourth consecutive government mandate, after those following the 2002, 2007 and 2011 elections, guaranteed the longest phase of political stability, all the more evident in contrast to the clear instability that characterized the nineties.
In the shadow of this stability, the AKP – favored by unprecedented economic growth and the prospect of EU membership – has embarked on a path of reforms in the economic, political, social and human rights fields, which have greatly contributed the growth of the country and the approach to European institutional political standards. Apex of the reformist process of the AKP was the revision of the Constitution at the end of a process that, after the first amendments approved by referendum in September 2010, placed the rewriting of the entire constitutional text as a priority on the government agenda in the third term. In the 2011 elections, however, the Akpit failed to obtain such a majority (quantifiable in two thirds of the parliament or at least in three fifths, to be able to submit the changes to a popular referendum) that it could change the constitutional charter without the support of other political groups. The strength of the AKP was offset by the progressive loss of support of the main opposition force, the Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, Chp), founded by Atatürk and heir to the Kemalist ideology. The Chp has partially reversed the trend negative in the 2011 parliamentary elections, in which it obtained its best result since 1995, securing 26% of the votes and winning 135 seats, the only formation to have increased its presence in parliament.
The government stability ensured by the AKP to Turkey in the post-2002 phase was not matched by an equally profound institutional stability. The ruling party’s appeal to sectarian values represented the main battleground with those accusing the AKP of questioning the secular character of the state, pillar of Turkish socio-institutional construction, pursuing a ‘secret agenda’ of Islamization of the country. Against this background, the relations between the current executive and the establishment have been particularly tensemilitary which, together with the high levels of the judiciary and the national bureaucratic apparatus, constitutes a sort of ‘state within the state’, traditionally erected as a bulwark of Kemalist orthodoxy. Three times, in the course of republican history (1960, 1971 and 1980), the army carried out coups to curb the excesses of political radicalism, while in 1997 it induced the Welfare Party, forerunner of the Akp and accused of promoting the Islamization of Turkey, to resign from the government. In 2008, it was the same Akpto have to defend himself before the Constitutional Court – which subsequently rejected the case – against the accusation of having become the ‘reference point of anti-secular activities’. The front appeared to be overturned again at the end of 2013 when the minister of the economy Zafer Çağlayan, that of the interior Muammer Güler and that of the environment and urbanization Erdoğan Bayraktar resigned, whose children had been arrested in the context of a maxi -investigation for corruption. The investigation brought 50 people to jail for illegally granted building permits. The resignation forced Prime Minister Erdoğan to reshuffle ten ministers. In January 2014, the executive responded with a heavy purge between magistrates and policemen.
Furthermore, 2014 was the first year in which the President of the Republic was directly elected and not nominated in parliament. Former Prime Minister Erdoğan was elected head of state, an election which confirmed his popularity. As a result, Erdoğan left the leadership of the government, entrusting it to one of his trusted men: the former foreign minister Davutoğlu. Erdoğan’s goal, after his election to the presidency, appears to be to accumulate new executive powers through constitutional reform. Nonetheless, the path towards changing the Constitution appears difficult due to the opposing position of the opposition; on a social level, on the other hand, the government of the Akpin 2013 he faced the biggest wave of protests since he came into power. At the center of the controversy, the neoliberal policies of the government, the accusations of corruption and those of repression of some civil liberties, especially regarding the freedom of the press. Furthermore, the urbanization and infrastructural development plans, especially in the Istanbul area, which were the spark for the protests of summer 2013, animated by the so-called Gezi Park movement, are under fire.
Following these problems, the AKP was unable to obtain an absolute majority in the elections of June 2015. The electoral outcome opened a long government crisis, during which the dominant party was forced to seek possible allies in parliament. President Erdoğan, determined to obtain the greatest possible freedom of action, has called early elections, after attempts to form a coalition government had proved in vain. In spite of the predictions, in the elections held in November the Akp obtained 49% of the votes and managed to gain a large majority in parliament which allowed it to form a government autonomously, despite the AKPhas not obtained 2/3 of the seats necessary to change the Constitution. The recovery of Erdoğan’s party is partly due to the climate of emergency caused by the escalation of the Syrian crisis and the consequent resumption of the Kurdish conflict.