A three-stage model to eval­u­ate the ma­tu­rity of Turk­ish democ­racy, By Oğuz Dilek


Be­fore the 2000s Turk­ish democ­racy ap­prox­i­mated a mi­nor­ity democ­racy; spe­cific to this po­lit­i­cal or­der, a nu­mer­i­cally mi­nor­ity seg­ment (Ke­mal­ists) sus­tained dom­i­nance in po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic mat­ters, while sys­tem­at­i­cally in­fan­tiliz­ing and oth­er­ing the re­main­ing, nu­mer­i­cal ma­jor­ity (the ‘peo­ple’). The changes Turkey has seen dur­ing the AK Party’s term have af­forded an his­toric op­por­tu­nity for a more in­clu­sion­ary form of democ­racy Any polity iden­ti­fied with demo­cratic ideals is ex­pected to be ruled “by” and “for” the peo­ple. The ex­tent to which a po­lit­i­cal sys­tem shows self-re­straint in this re­spect de­ter­mines its demo­cratic ma­tu­rity. This es­say ar­gues that the more peo­ple pic­ture their gov­ern­ment as con­sid­er­ing at least some of their opin­ions, per­spec­tives or pri­or­i­ties in the public pol­icy-mak­ing pro­cesses, the greater the demo­cratic ma­tu­rity of the coun­try. In other words, demo­cratic ma­tu­rity has much to do with the strength of the rep­re­sen­ta­tive in­sti­tu­tions through which even his­tor­i­cally ex­cluded peo­ple can now raise their -- of­ten dis­si­dent -- voices.

There is still space to em­pha­size some of the more def­i­nite vari­ables af­fect­ing the phe­nom­e­non of the ma­tu­rity of democ­racy. The most im­por­tant of th­ese con­cerns the ex­tent to which po­lit­i­cal elites ro­man­ti­cize the cul­tural im­age of their cit­i­zens. The elites so do­ing first at­tribute cer­tain cul­tural/eth­nic/moral at­tributes to the peo­ple that they rep­re­sent, thereby ex­clud­ing from the de­clared na­tional iden­tity all oth­ers that defy some or all of th­ese ab­strac­tions. The scope of rep­re­sen­ta­tion thereby ex­pands to in­clude more peo­ple only with higher de­grees of so­cial em­pa­thy and lower de­grees of oth­er­iza­tion. In other words, demo­cratic ma­tu­rity in­creases when po­lit­i­cal elites in­stead first ac­knowl­edge and ap­pre­ci­ate the di­ver­sity in a so­ci­ety and forge a type of so­cial con­tract that evolves from bot­tom to top, not the other way around.

It is clear that in the ab­sence of so­cial em­pa­thy, the whole idea of be­ing a so­ci­ety, and even that of be­ing a democ­racy, is up for grabs. Em­pa­thy hereby refers to a broad va­ri­ety of emo­tional states. One’s car­ing for other peo­ple’s trou­bles and de­sire to give a help­ing hand is one of the most defin­ing facets of em­pa­thy. When this feel­ing is ap­plied to a larger so­cial unit -- so­ci­ety -peo­ple are ex­pected to draw not-so-dis­tin­guish­able lines of sep­a­ra­tion be­tween them­selves and the other. Po­lit­i­cal sys­tems based on the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the peo­ple tend to build upon the idea of so­cial em­pa­thy in that they pro­mote the idea of “we-feel­ing” and cat­e­gor­i­cally re­ject a search for in­ter­nal oth­ers as enemies.


A sys­tem of cat­e­go­riza­tion is pro­posed by this pa­per in or­der to rank democ­ra­cies ac­cord­ing to their level of

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Turkey

© PressReader. All rights reserved.