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Osman Can is Reporting Judge on the Turkish Constitutional Court. He was named ”Jurist of the Year” by Turkey’s Jurists’ Association in 2010Local elections on March 30, which had a 90 per cent participation rate, have been seen as a vote of confidence for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan. With 45.6 per cent of the votes, Erdoan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) – which has been in power since 2002 – triumphed once more. In order to grasp the formula of Erdoğan's success, one should look at Turkish history and analyze the social dynamics.

Turkey is the successor of the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed after World War I. Military officials and political elites, who were influenced by the fascism and National Socialism that were dominant in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s, shaped the constitutional order of the young republic.

Those elites had a vision for Turkey, and in order to create the individual and society suited to that vision, they designed a strictly centralized constitutional order. They rejected the principle of separation of powers and turned an ethnocentric ideology into the official ideology of the country. They ignored identities that did not fit their vision, and tried to assimilate the ones they could not ignore.

Since then, the social base that was furnished by the privileges these elites provided has been both the founder and the defender of that exclusionist constitutional order. The economic system was designed to be exclusionist as well so that the constitutional order could endure. Political elites produced the economic elites, who provided the support they needed.

Erdoğan regarded the consolidation of democracy as a starting point for opposing the old elite. His party emerged as a political movement and has become the voice of the majority of Turkish society. It translated the demands and concerns of this majority into a political program without sacrificing the principles of democracy. Much of the support for Erdoan is thus a reaction to the old political elites and their allies.

There are those who do not belong to the AKP's traditional social base but have faced the consequences of the old regime's policies and support Erdoğan's political stance on democratization and change. Among them are many people from the Kurdish opposition who favor an ethnic Kurdish policy.

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