It goes without saying that the Gezi Park protests, which started a year ago and rocked Istanbul and other cities for several weeks, were a watershed moment for Turkey. A profound tipping point, there's very little in Turkish political and social life that has not somehow been influenced by the Gezi events. At the same time, Gezi's legacy is still evolving, its impact seen on developments that are both encouraging and dispiriting.
This mix of positive and negative changes can be seen regarding the fate of Gezi Park itself. At the most basic level, the effort to save the Istanbul park from being turned into a shopping mall -- which is what led to the protests in the first place -- was a success, with Gezi today still serving as a rare green space in the heart of Istanbul. On the other hand, as evidenced by the ongoing construction of the third bridge over the Bosphorus, the protests have done very little to slow down the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government's appetite for environmentally costly state-sponsored megaprojects that are greenlighted with little oversight or input from the public.
And while the protests were instrumental in mobilizing a new class of political activists and in raising awareness about a host of issues that had previously been ignored (for more take a look at this very good piece by the Guardian's Constanze Letsch), that energy has yet to be directed into an organized political effort that can successfully challenge the AKP.
This mix of results can also be seen in terms of whatever "successes" the government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan can claim in the year after Gezi. To be sure, while Erdogan may have preserved his domestic standing, over the last year his international reputation has become tarnished beyond repair, the image of Erdogan as a conspiracy-theory minded autocrat gaining increasing currency in the international press and among foreign observers. Meanwhile, the steps the AKP has taken over the last year to maintain power and forestall further organizing efforts -- from putting increased pressure on the press and aggressively shutting down any protests to wholesale dismissals in the police and judiciary as part of the battle with the Gulen movement -- have called Turkey's democratic credentials into question and finally laid to rest the overhyped notion of the "Turkish model."
Especially after the AKP's strong showing in late March's local elections, Erdogan can make the claim that the protests did little to his stature as Turkey's leading political figure. But staying on top over the last year has come at a considerable cost -- for Erdogan and his party and, more worryingly, for the state of Turkish democracy.