Introduction On 28th May, 2013, widespread protest broke in Turkey in response to the brutal eviction of a sit-in at the Taksim Gezi Park1. The sit-in was to protest the development plan that the government had planned for the park. …
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The main issues that could be discerned included freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of the press, and the violation on secularism. The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, on supporting the protests, noted that when considering that Turkey has always been considered a moderate Islamic state, the protest were indeed astonishing. He argues that the protests are proof that a free market does not always lead to social freedom but can exist with authoritarian politics. Basically, Zizek points out that the existence of a free market does not always mean that a democratic state exists. A country can employ a free market system but withhold sharing of power between the ruling few and the majority public. In considering the protests in Turkey, it can thus be concluded that neo-liberalism in the country led to the decline of the government’s responsibility to its people and thus leading to a very angry citizenship that reacted in the best way that they could. Democracy is an integrated political system that is based on the principle of involvement. Democracy is based on two concepts; liberty and self-government2. Liberty often referred to as freedom belongs to individuals while popular sovereignty belongs to the public as a whole. Liberty encompasses what governments are prohibited to do to their citizens, that is, curtail individual freedoms. Self-government as a property of democracy on the other hand deals in the manner with which those who govern are chosen. In this way, self-government deals with who leads while liberty sets rules that impose limits on what those who govern can do. In the past thirty years, democracy has enjoyed an extraordinary rise. Incorporating social welfare with liberty and sovereignty has led democracy to be widely popular. It has however can be noticed that most governments are unable to maintain democracy as in the case of Turkey. Markets and Democracy Free markets nurture democracy in four main ways3. It is in these four ways that the government of Turkey failed and which led to the unrest that was witnessed in a country that was considered a promising example of change in the Islamic world. The first manner in which free markets promote democracy is free markets are founded on the principle of private property. In a free market society, governments have to uphold the right of every citizen to own property as well as protect public property. According to4, one of the main reasons that the protest spread across Turkey was that the citizens were protesting the sale of public spaces, streams, forests, urban symbols and beaches to private companies and individual investors. The plans to demolish Gezi Park to erect a shopping mall were a tipping point of the anger the citizens harbored on the privatization efforts the government was conducting. The second manner in which free markets promote democracy is that they generate wealth5. As a country acquires wealth through the free market system, the middle class also referred to as the social backbone of democracy, arise. In turkey, the government grew complacent and forgot about the needs of the middle class in favor of the rich and elite. The people grew frustrated when their government increasingly went out of its way to create conducive environments for big companies while slowly decreasing public spending on social welfare. The third manner in which free markets foster democracy is by creating a civil society6. This occurs where groups and organizations such as religious associations, labor unions and professional
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