Turkey is not now and never has been a democracy. It was a disguised military dictatorship. The army was content to permit the forms of democracy (as, for example, the ayatollahs have been content to allow in Iran), but any time the civil government seemed likely to interfere with something the army could not stand for, the soldiers intervened.
The electorate never accepted the Kemalist revolution (just as the masses never accepted the earlier reforms of the Young Ottomans). Paul Theroux (In "The Great Railway Bazaar") noted that modernization came to a halt on the day in 1937 that Ataturk died.
|A leader with no followers|
From that time on, the army fought a delaying action aginst the national consensus against secularism.
The religious parties for a lonf time pursued the revolutionary road, and the army repeatedly suppressed them.
Erdogan, one of the most skilled politicians of our time, is a religious nut who noticed that revolutionaries usually ended up dead or in exile; or, if the revolution succeeded, saw it drift away from its principles.
It was his insight that to wreck secularism and restore Turkey to its Muslim social and political statis, it would have to be done slowly, and by boring from within -- by using democratic forms.
The transition from disguised military dictatorship to theological despotism has been obvious for years now and the only question was, when would the army lose its grip. Now we know.