Turkey has turned from a backsliding democracy to a hybrid regime, according to the 2021 report of the Sweden-based Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).
It is one of the countries where democracy has declined the most in the past decade, along with Nicaragua, Serbia, Poland and Brazil, according to the report.
In Turkey, there has been a decline in all five attributes of a democracy, which are representative government, fundamental rights, checks on government, impartial administration and participatory engagement, the report notes.
A hybrid regime is defined as a regime that has the characteristics of both democracy and authoritarianism.
“Almost a third of formerly backsliding democracies have turned into hybrid or authoritarian regimes, including Nicaragua, Russia, Turkey and Venezuela.
“Democratic breakdown in backsliding democracies usually occurs when levels of electoral support diminish, and incumbent governments manipulate the electoral process to remain in power.”
Turkey’s “severe declines” in clean elections was also a factor in its status being relegated to a hybrid regime, says the report.
Governments’ undemocratic and unnecessary steps to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control also contributes to the backsliding of democracy, the report says.
“Data from International IDEA’s Global Monitor of Covid-19’s Impact on Democracy and Human Rights shows that in many countries, including Belarus, Egypt, Papua New Guinea, Turkey and Venezuela, attacks have been perpetrated against scientists, healthcare workers, activists or opposition politicians in addition to journalists.
“These victims have been targeted for disseminating data, research and information, as well as for lodging complaints on the handling of the pandemic or reporting on the virus.”
Governments used coronavirus contact tracing applications to have control over people’s personal information, says IDEA.
“Globally, 42 per cent of countries have used either voluntary or compulsory contact tracing apps or sharing of mobile data as part of their pandemic response.
“While these approaches have proven effective in curbing the spread of the virus, they also pose new challenges to personal integrity and data protection, particularly in countries that lack adequate legislative frameworks.
“There is also a risk that the storage of personal data can be used for political purposes after the pandemic is over. Of particular concern are the eight non-democratic regimes (Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey) that have made these apps mandatory, countering good practice guidelines.”
“In addition to globally low levels of gender equality being exacerbated by pandemic effects, gender equality is also threatened by rising authoritarianism, with political leaders increasingly using gender as a weapon as part of their backsliding strategies.
“In March 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, the legally binding Council of Europe treaty to tackle violence against women. Hungary did so in 2019.”