By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently expressed allegiance to “one nation, one flag, one religion, one state.” Indeed, the Turkish republic recognizes only “one religion”, Sunni Islam, as the basis of the nation. Erdoğan is nonetheless anxious to preserve the image that he has successfully cultivated as the benefactor of the numerically insignificant non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. What the ruling Sunni conservatives have much greater difficulty in reconciling themselves to, is that Turkey, although nominally “99 percent Muslim” is far from being homogenously Sunni Muslim.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
Is there a third way for Turkey, one that would offer an escape from the statist and nationalist authoritarianism to which both Kemalism and Islamism condemns the country? While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has increasingly come to embrace an illiberal approach, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is attempting to move in the opposite direction. However, the assumption that there is still a significant constituency for liberal change to tap into, as was the case a decade ago, when the AKP first came to power and when EU membership beckoned, is a dubious one. History teaches that it is unlikely that Turkey, left to its own devices, will emancipate from illiberalism.
By Kadri Gürsel (vol. 4, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
Polarizing the society over religious and cultural identities has been the power tactic of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) almost all along. That tactic once again worked to the benefit of the AKP in the recent general election. But the daunting constitutional challenge that Turkey now faces requires an ability to reach across divides of identity. The new, difficult parliamentary arithmetic in a highly divided political terrain heralds tough times as the new Turkey searches for its soul.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 7 of the Turkey Analyst)
Agreeing upon the rules for how they are going to live together, with mutual respect for differences, is the fundamental challenge that faces the citizens of Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has pledged that the authoritarian constitution will be replaced with a new, “civilian” constitution following the general election in June. Yet a truly “civilian” constitution must be a societal covenant, of which Turkey has had no prior experience. The question is if the people of Turkey will be able to surprise each other with restraint and generosity.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 2 of the Turkey Analyst)
The liberals who were instrumental in legitimating the ascension of the Justice and development party (AKP) are now dramatically revoking their support for the Islamic conservatives. Its erstwhile allies accuse the AKP of seeking to reintroduce a culturally conservative version of the old regime of state tutelage. Yet it is simply beyond the power of the state to impose an ideological straitjacket on Turkey, be it Kemalist or Islamist.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.