Justice and Development Party’s Understanding of Democracy and Democratisation: Cultural Relativism and the Construction of the West as the ‘Other’

In: Iran and the Caucasus
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  • 1 Ankara

The perception of Turkey as a model of attractive country in the region has started to change in the recent years. In the first decade of the JDP rule Turkey was seen as an emerging power with its strong economy, improving democracy and inspiring foreign policy. However, the developments since the Arab Uprisings in the neighbourhood, Gezi movement at home, end of the Kurdish peace process, as well as coup attempt and subsequent de-democratisation harmed the soft power of Turkey. This study argues that the JDP’s understanding of democracy and democratisation has been full of flaws from the very beginning of its rule. The Turkish example shows that countries can experience subsequent processes of de-democratisation and de-democratisation if governing parties did not endogenise the basic norms of democracy. Therefore, it is argued that the reverse wave of de-democratisation characterises Turkey more than the “selective” processes of democratisation. It is also argued that JDP elite via its discourse has been constructing the West as the ‘Other’.

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