When Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu firmly stated last year that “Turkey is not a second-class democracy,” I fully agreed with him, and wrote: “He is right. Turkey must walk a long way and reform its crippled electoral democracy to earn that title.” A third-class democracy would have been a more realistic tag.
Less than a year after that, and only two days after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “Turkey’s freedoms and democracy have advanced remarkably,” the Freedom House published its 2014 rankings and put Turkey into the “not free” category of countries, down from an earlier “partly free” class.
According to Mr. Erdoğan’s usual chorus of cheerleaders, the Freedom House had downgraded Turkey because its chairman was Jewish. Some claimed the Jewish Lobby was behind it, and others said it was George Soros.
Fortunately, there is not a category Turkey can further regress into. It is now the only country in Europe that is “not free.” All the same, that should not discourage Mr. Erdoğan. Turkey can one day really become a second-class democracy, but not when he believes “criticism over his rule in the western media confirms he is doing the right things.”