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The Pandora’s box: democratization and rule of law in Turkey


  • Meltem Müftüler-Baç



A prominent question in the literature on democracy is concerned with the role of external factors in stimulating the process of democratization and uploading rule of law. This paper tackles the following questions: How does the political conditionality of an international organization—the EU in this case—stimulate democracy in third countries? Equally important, does conditionality always have a positive impact and could it be possible to witness the EU undermining democracy in an unexpected manner? This paper addresses these questions through an analysis of the Turkish democracy in the light of its accession to the EU and through an application of the EU membership conditionality by looking at rule of law in Turkey. The general contention in the political conditionality literature is that the EU enables an acceding country to adopt its democratic principles, and facilitates transition to democracy, while strengthening rule of law. However, the Turkish transformation seems to challenge this contention. This paper proposes that the EU’s political conditionality in bringing about political transformation in Turkey as a membership precondition unexpectedly illuminated the underlying anti-democratic tendencies and tensions in Turkish politics. The democratization process in Turkey since 1999, partly stimulated by the EU, has opened up a Pandora’s box releasing the conflict between the secularists and religious conservatives in Turkey that has long been suppressed. This paper analyzes these cleavages through the prism of EU political conditionality with regards to rule of law. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Suggested Citation

  • Meltem Müftüler-Baç, 2016. "The Pandora’s box: democratization and rule of law in Turkey," Asia Europe Journal, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 61-77, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:asiaeu:v:14:y:2016:i:1:p:61-77
    DOI: 10.1007/s10308-015-0435-9

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