The 1982 constitution that followed the military coup of 1980 was always challenged in Turkey for it made the army the real players. But the nature of this challenge, demonstrated by numerous revisions and plans to replace it, has changed with the rise to power of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party).In the early 2000s, Turkey’s fundamental law was reformed to meet European standards regarding respect for fundamental freedoms and thereby pave the way for EU accession talks. The army’s grip on politics also had to be reduced — especially on the National Security Council, whose composition and role were revamped in October 2001. The AKP continued this direction of travel when it came to power in 2002, facilitating the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into Turkish law and formalising gender equality and the abolition of the death penalty in a 2004 reform. In addition, there were civil and criminal law reforms and a demilitarisation of judicial processes (limiting the powers of military justice and making military personnel subject to the common law in appropriate circumstances). Given its origins as an Islamist movement, the AKP government’s liberalisation of Turkey’s political system came as a surprise.
Erdoğan’s widening presidential aims