Antidemocratic Populism in Turkey after the July 2016 Coup Attempt

In: Populism
Julius M. Rogenhofer University of Cambridge

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President Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) fundamentally transformed the Turkish political realm: The AKP was elected in 2002 on promises of economic liberalisation and accession to the European Union (EU). Over sixteen years it steered Turkey from being perceived as a “model” western-style democracy to autocracy. Instrumental for this transformation was Erdogan’s use of a new form of right-wing, religiously legitimated populism that systematically undermined the institutions of democracy by polarising society, capturing the public discourse and disregarding constitutional principles. This article examines the emergence of the AKP’s right-wing, religiously legitimated populism through three analytical lenses: First, the historical development of democracy in Turkey and its shortcomings; second, the antidemocratic effect of Erdogan’s post-coup attempt policies; third, a comparison between the AKP’s brand of populism with political strategies employed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, the Law and Justice Party (PiS) in Poland and Putin’s Russia.

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