04 April 2014

The rule of law in Turkey

Prime Minister Erdogan grumbles that he may have to obey the ruling of Turkey's Constitutional Court overturning the ban on Twitter, but he doesn't have to respect it. Since Turkey seems to be a free country, I guess he's right on both counts. The country's telecommunications directorate cut off access to the social media platform, albeit ineffectively, in response to Erdogan's complaint that links had been posted to illegal wiretaps appearing to implicate him in corruption. Justifying his own stance, Erdogan -- as translated by an English-language Turkish news site -- complained that whether or not people used a commercial product like Twitter was not a question of freedom. He complained that the court's ruling was "unpatriotic" since it had favored an American entity over his government. While his complaints have raised new alarms among Turkey's liberals, the salient fact remains that he has respected the judicial check on his powers in the only way that counts. His party's victories in local elections did not embolden him to defy the court. Inevitably Erdogan will continue to be portrayed as an authoritarian personality by his rivals, but where don't you hear such rhetoric? It's a mostly regrettable feature of democratic representative government that opponents will accuse each other of trying to end democratic representative government. Whether the warnings about Erdogan from his enemies are to be taken more seriously than the warnings our country's Democrats and Republicans issue against each other is for Turks, who are obviously better qualified observers, to judge for themselves.

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