In an October 28, 2010, op-ed for Open Society, Research Associate Daphne McCurdy examines the poor state of Turkey’s opposition to help explain the increasing dominance of the Party of Justice and Development in Turkish politics.   

This month, members of Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) convened at a holiday resort to review the party’s policies and future strategy after their stinging defeat in the September 12th referendum. Most media accounts of the referendum have focused on the ruling Justice and Development Party’s bid for greater governmental control through constitutional amendments. Indeed, the government’s domestic opponents have claimed that by expanding the authority of the President and Parliament in the judicial selection process (both institutions are now controlled by the AKP), it has eviscerated the last bastion of secularism in the country.

One can certainly question the AKP’s democratic intentions in making these changes: the party often seems to advance only those reforms that serve its self-interest and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies belie the party’s reformist credentials. But there’s more to this story than the AKP. The real problem for Turkey, and the reason the AKP has been able to dominate the political landscape in recent years, is the sad state of the Turkish opposition.

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