For the last few years, all the discussions about Turkey have actually revolved around a typical problem. On the one hand, those with a formalist approach focus on the formal conditions of democracy, asserting that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is drawing the country away from democracy by undermining judicial independence and the separation of powers. On the other hand, those engaging in institutional opinion analysis emphasize that a mutual consent phase, which is required for the operation of democracy, still cannot be reached. They argue that all the institutions claiming to be impartial are not in fact impartial, but rather act as direct political actors and consequently, the formal conditions of democracy only function as a cover. Those of this opinion also underline that for judicial independence to actually function, jurisdiction should be impartial above all, but the facts in Turkey are far from this.
The essence of the discussions lies between legality and legitimacy. Those having the former view stand for the functioning of the law at all costs. They point out that democracy can rise only on these legal grounds, and the mistakes or abuses of the law can be resolved again within this system. They are worried that common ground might not be found for the functioning of democracy if laws are discredited. Those with the latter opinion assert that the law has already lost its reputation. According to them, Turkey is in a pre-law and a pre-democratic stage in a certain sense. So far, the Republican regime has settled on a system that formally resembles democracy, but cannot internalize its mindset. Therefore, as the formal conditions are conformed, one is confronted with a chaotic power struggle instead of a democracy.
It can be said that the discussion advanced in balance for a while. However, the situation seemingly changed when it was revealed that the Gülen Movement allegedly resorted to certain illegal methods such as wiretapping, defamation, blackmailing and propaganda, and used a police-prosecutor-judge triangle for those purposes. When it was unveiled that police and the judiciary were not impartial and, contrarily, served the unknown aims of the non-transparent Gülen Movement, defending the "practical law" was eliminated from any realistic alternative. Of course, law is normally an indispensable component and one of the prerequisites of democracy. However, the practice of law may not conform to theoretical templates. In the case of Turkey, the judicial system that conveys and interprets law has so far survived thanks to coercion from the state. It has never been a credible authority or a just system of arbitration. In other words, the legal system has always had a problem of legitimacy.
The domination of the Gülen Movement in the judiciary and police departments used the law even more and turned it into a playing field for a narrow network of interest-seekers. For a long time, no legal investigation could be launched into the prosecutors and judges linked to the Gülen Movement. The Constitutional Court became a tool of judicial clerks and two-thirds of those clerks still have links with the movement. Moreover, all substantial political files are assigned to them.
Considering this picture, it becomes apparent that the country urgently needs grounding in legitimacy before a new legal ground is developed. For this reason, the upcoming elections are critical. Since the AK Party is aware of this, it endeavors to be ratified by society on all occasions by expressing its own situation and the phase that has been reached. Besides, it is not possible to accept a bureaucratic "inner state" structure as a legitimate authority since it has no social bonds vis-a-vis the legitimacy of a democratically-elected government. Turkey will form its legal system, but first and foremost, the law is required to be settled on legitimate grounds.