Bipartisan Policy Center Releases New Analysis of Turkey’s Political Landscape

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Washington, D.C. – The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Turkey Initiative, released a paper today assessing the importance of Turkey’s local elections, to be held on March 30, 2014. Through the paper, Turkey’s Local Elections: Actors, Factors, and Implications, the initiative, co-chaired by former U.S. Ambassadors to Turkey Mort Abramowitz and Eric Edelman, analyzes the elections’ implications for the country’s stability and its relationship with the United States.

Turkey continues to be rocked by political turmoil. Ongoing public demonstrations have followed the mass protests that started in Istanbul’s Gezi Park last summer and the revelation of massive corruption allegations against figures close to the government in December. On March 30, Turkish voters will have their first opportunity to respond to this political turbulence. Rather than offer any resolution, however, these local elections, the first of three over the next 18 months, are likely to set the stage for greater instability.

“The political landscape in Turkey is currently defined by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s determination to build a system of one-man rule, with him at the center. This has alienated former allies within the ruling Justice and Development Party and many others, who have turned out to protest his increasingly authoritarian ruling style,” said Blaise Misztal, acting director of BPC’s Foreign Policy Project.

To shed light on how these political conflicts will play out, the paper:

  • Provides background on the state of Turkish politics
  • Outlines the tensions among Turkey’s main political actors
  • Analyzes the key factors driving Turkish politics
  • Reviews the local elections

“The most likely outcome of the upcoming local elections is that Turkey will simply remain on its current trajectory,” said Misztal. “American policymakers should understand that, if Turkey stays on course, it will be so consumed by its internal struggle that it will be unable to focus its energies on a constructive foreign policy. Under such circumstances, Turkey is unlikely to be a strong ally for the United States.”

This paper builds upon a previous BPC report, From Rhetoric to Reality: Reframing U.S. Turkey Policy, and reiterates its recommendations that U.S. policymakers reframe Turkey policy in order to focus the country’s growing authoritarianism. Read the full paper here.

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