Turkey has been ranked 148th out of 173 countries with regards to the rule of law, according to the 2023 Global State of Democracy report by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA). This ranking places Turkey among the lower echelons of European nations in terms of democratic governance, only surpassing Belarus.
The report coincides with a burgeoning legal crisis in Turkey, as the Turkish Court of Cassation has taken unprecedented legal action against members of the Constitutional Court (AYM). This legal confrontation follows the AYM’s decision that the ongoing detention of Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP Can Atalay constituted a breach of personal freedom and the electoral rights of his constituents. Atalay, who was handed an 18-year prison term for his role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests, has become the nexus of a significant clash between the nation’s highest courts. The Court of Cassation’s move to file a criminal complaint against the AYM judges, alleging they “violated the Constitution and exceeded their authority”, underscores the deepening concerns over judicial independence and the state of democratic freedoms in Turkey.
The report, which is based on evaluations from 2022, marks a departure from previous years by providing a detailed analysis across four key democratic categories: Rule of Law, Rights, Representation, and Participation. It highlights a concerning trend of democratic backsliding in Turkey, with the country categorised as non-democratic and performing significantly below the European average.
In the Rights category, Turkey’s ranking is 129th globally, while in Representation, it stands at 112th. Participation sees Turkey at 139th place worldwide. These figures contrast sharply with the top-performing countries in these categories, such as Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, which continue to lead by example in upholding democratic values.
The report also notes the Turkish government’s efforts to restrict protests and diminish civic space, mirroring similar trends in Belarus and Russia.