Dialectics of Reform and Repression: Unpacking Turkey's Authoritarian “Turn”
Twenty-first century Turkey has been shaped by two conflicting trends: all-encompassing reform in almost all aspects of law that were transformative if not altogether progressive, and an increasing erosion of the rule of law, which finally culminated in a nation-wide emergency regime and the April 2017 constitutional referendum. The pressing question for many is why the promising reform era was abandoned for crude repression? In this essay, we answer this question by challenging its very foundation and pointing instead to an alternative line of inquiry concerning Turkish politics and society, one that focuses precisely on the interplay between reform and repression. The constitutional referendum of April 2017 compels observers and scholars of Turkey to reevaluate the interplay between reform and repression. Rather than reading contemporary Turkey as a case of relapse from reform into repression, as many commentators do, we suggest approaching reform and repression as concomitant and complementary modes of government.