The first decade of AKP rule witnessed much needed constitutional and political reforms, unprecedented economic growth and fiscal stability and the emergence of a bold new vision for Turkish foreign policy, including a reengagement with the Middle East through improved trade relations and open border policies. In pursuing the interests of its core constituency, the AKP had a liberalizing influence on Turkey's economic and political order giving rise to high hopes for democratic consolidation and resolution of the country's longstanding civil conflict with its Kurdish citizens. The last four years have witnessed reversal on most of the promise with which the AKP first swept into office in 2002. In this presentation, I will offer a critical examination of the record of the last four years--set against the previous decade of reforms--through the prism of the new constitution project that the AKP launched in 2007 and continues to pursue. The effort to replace the 1982 constitution, drafted under military rule, still enjoys broad support in Turkey. But whereas the AKP sought to adopt a relatively liberal constitution in 2007 and then oversaw a stillborn consensus-based drafting process from 2011 to 2013, the current attempt to embrace presidentialism through constitutional reform is marked by the divisiveness and authoritarianism that have become hallmarks of President Erdogan's rule. I argue that understanding the trajectory of constitutionalism under the AKP helps explain why the country finds itself back at the brink of civil war.
Bali teaches international and comparative law subjects at UCLA Law. She is a graduate of the Yale Law School and holds a PhD from the Politics Department at Princeton. Her most recent publications include "Turkish Constitutionalism: A Model for Reforms in Arab Countries?" (forthcoming 2015), "Negotiating Non-Proliferation: International Law and the Iranian Nuclear Crisis" (2014), and "Courts and Constitutional Transition: Lessons from the Turkish Case" (2013).
Co-Sponsored by The School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies and The Arizona Center for Turkish Studies