Even the proponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) are of the opinion that if the past 13 years are roughly divided into two parts, the AK Party was politically more successful in the first half. One reason for this conviction might be the fact that when the AK Party came to power for the first time there were many more opportunities to bring innovations and to correct the blatant mistakes that were made in the past. However, the main reason is that the struggle that was conducted in the second period was much riskier and more back-breaking.
The government struggled with coup attempts that were directly aimed at itself in the first period, which followed the periods of military coups. Military coups were already inwardly damned by a vast majority of society, world conjuncture supported civil politics and Turkey passed significant thresholds on its way to become a member to the EU. Therefore, the AK Party had a "legitimate" position in the face of the military and supporters of the military. Meanwhile, crimes were committed, armories were found and the contents of military meetings were disclosed to the public. Therefore, the AK Party was hardly exhausted in the first period. On the contrary, its legitimacy increased with each step it took.
Since there were concerns that the judiciary could be affected by executive power in the second period, what the AK Party faced in that period was the judiciary rather than the military that had interfered in the civil government. It was emphasized that democracy was a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and it was wanted that the independence of the judiciary be respected. The issues that the judiciary was not impartial and dominated by members from the Gülen Movement took a back seat. Meanwhile, the U.S. and EU joined the oppression that "invited" the government to "democracy." Thus, the AK Party saw that the West's support melted away. The West's approach to the Gezi Park incidents and its support of the military coup staged by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Egypt at the same period consolidated the AK Party's sense of "loneliness." On the other hand, judicial transactions were not transparent and it was possible to produce all kinds of crimes and deem almost everyone a criminal with the establishment of the tripartite mechanism of the police, prosecutors and judges. The judiciary itself, however, was the maintainer of legitimacy. While the AK Party was slowly getting into a tight corner, it was understood that the party could defend itself only through the media and was only supported by its voter base. Therefore, while steps were being taken to interfere with the judiciary, some part of the media adopted the mission of supporting the government.
Today, the proponents of the AK Party do not object to the fact that this is divergent from democracy in normative terms. However, it is hardly possible to suggest that this is divergent from democracy in real terms. This is because such a system cannot be called democracy, considering that the Gülen Movement dominated the judiciary, took steps to expand its area through fictitious investigations, deliberately infiltrated the military and other bureaucratic institutions and, thanks to the illegal tapes that it accumulated, made blackmailing legal and legitimate.
The question is whether the AK Party has a chance to pursue a path where it will do less harm to democracy in normative terms. Today, many AK party supporters give a positive answer to this question. Either in the retrospective or ongoing processes, the government has a chance to take a more moderate path in terms of respect for the law. As far as the severity and depth of the contention is concerned, no one has justification to propose this, because those who are responsible for this struggle are not commentators like us, but the government. The AK Party's survival depends on the final outcome of this struggle and its power is directly proportional to its preservation of its voter base. While the AK Party gives messages that it will tend toward a robust democracy after the elections, it actually says that practices in the recent period were not implemented with appreciation. The election results will reveal to what extent this message will be respected by the electorate.