This study analyses the relationship between checks and balances and democracy, focusing on Turkey in comparative perspective. In a large-N setting, the effects of checks and balances on the quality of democracy are examined. The findings reinforce the essential relationship between democracy and checks and balances. The article then discusses the implications of the the findings for Turkey. It stresses the need for horizontal accountability via checks and balances vested in different state agencies. In addition to state-level checks and balances, the importance of societal actors as sources of accountability is also elaborated. The study identifies the need for vertical accountability, not only through free elections but also by creating a political setting in which pluralistic media and civil society can thrive. In light of findings, the article stresses the need for a new constitutional framework that can embrace both state- and societal-level checks and balances.