The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which came to power for the third term after the June 12, 2011 elections, has increasingly been enjoying a situation in which it faces no real opposition from other political parties in Parliament.
There is no pressure forcing the AK Party to feel the heat and force it to rethink its highly controversial policies, which have included a departure from reformist policies and resorted to a more conservative stance such as dictating policies on a possible ban on abortion. It is a known fact that Turkey's greatest democratic deficit is the lack of an opposition. The existing opposition parties in Parliament are ideologically motivated, but trapped in narrow politics.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the meantime, pretends that he has no problems at all with the military since the military's political power has been curbed. The evidence for Erdoğan's pretention is that there are no moves to introduce laws that will, for example, subordinate the military to the Ministry of Defense while lifting Article 35 of the Internal Service Law of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) that will end the military's excuse to stage coups.
According to some speculations in Ankara, Erdoğan does not want to spoil his good working relationship with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, which will otherwise be spoiled if he pushes for military reforms. Turkish civil-military relations are already fragile since more than 250 active and retired military officers, including generals, are in jail over charges of plotting a coup to unseat the government.
As the AK Party enjoys an absence of a credible opposition in Parliament, it does not want an opposition that may come from the military either; therefore, it refrains from making any moves towards military reforms.
The government, has, however, started to face increasing opposition from both Turkish liberals supporting democratic reforms as well as from an influential movement in Turkey named after its leader, Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamic theologian living in the US state of Pennsylvania. The Turkish government's plans to either totally abolish specially authorized courts, known as ÖYMs in Turkish, which investigate coup plot trials, or to make changes to the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK) articles concerning the ÖYMs and their prosecutors, have further fuelled an ongoing row between the AK Party and the Gülen movement as well as liberals.
Ongoing probes against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), in which suspects are accused of being involved in terrorism, have also fallen under the ÖYMs' responsibility. At the center of the concern of both liberals and the Gülen movement is that through revisions to be made on the ÖYMs or by their possible abolishment, Turkey will lose strength in its fight against coups and activities opposed to the constitutional order.
Amendments to be made on the establishment of ÖYMs will lead to the release of around 250 acting and ex-military officers, including generals, who are being tried over charges of making coup plans to unseat the government. If the changes are made to the related laws, the defendants will be released pending trial. However, there are concerns that their release will later be followed by a general amnesty that may be adopted in Parliament.
There are also critics within the AK Party whoa re against any possible revisions of ÖYMs or their abolishment. Burhan Kuzu, an AK Party deputy and the head of the parliamentary Constitution Commission, stated recently that the release of defendants in coup plot cases will have negative repercussions that will come from the public.
“Spain and Italy cleaned them [illegal elements within the state]. Russia failed to do so. This is why the mafia in Russia is very active. If Turkey does not rid itself of them [alleged coup plotters and illegal deep state elements], it will be faced with a horrible situation,” he warned in a recent speech.
It remains to be seen what kind of revisions will be made to the ÖYMs or whether they will be abolished. But the AK Party has been facing serious pressure from both the influential Gülen movement as well as from liberals against several of its controversial policies towards items such as the ÖYMs.
The AK Party faces the risk of losing public support since the votes of Turkish liberals and Gülen movement followers are estimated to be over 30 percent of the close to 50 percent it received in the 2011 general elections.