The Turkish experience in the past decade has indicated that
secularism alone is not sufcient
for democratization. Issues pertaining to electoral hegemony and monopolization of power are equally pertinent.
also this popularity and unmatched ability that encourage Islamists to unction in a democratic, multi-party system.Furthermore, Islamic parties have so ar ailed to oﬀer a distinct and coherent ideological program alternative to capitalism and democracy. Tey have lacked a political blueprint or an Islamic state, while Islamic projects remained institutionally underdeveloped. Te act that the Islamic parties in unisia and Egypt expressed their prox-imity to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in urkey, which has abandoned Islamism as a political project a decade ago and unctioned within the existing secular ramework as a service-oriented, socially conservative, neoliberal party, conﬁrmed the ailure o political Islam as a distinct political project.
Te urkish experience in the past decade has thus indicated that secularism alone is not suﬃcient or democratization. Issues pertaining to elec-toral hegemony and monopolization o power are equally pertinent.
Since the AKP came to power in 2002, it has dominated the electoral process in general and local elections, attaining success unmatched by another political party in the history o urkish democracy. Tis electoral hegemony in the existing institutional setting delivered the AKP strong majorities in the parliament, the presidency, and control over metropolitan municipalities, enabling the party to monopolize power. Te AKP’s desire to control power has been a result o its belie that eﬀective governance is a unction o a strong executive, increasingly embodied in the personality o Prime Minister Recep ayyip Erdoğan. Prioritizing consequences over procedures, the AKP government has built its image on eﬀective governance while requently complaining o the “hurdles” they meet on their way (presented by the judiciary, the opposition, civil society etc.). Te monopoly on power, however, has had mixed results or democratic consolidation in urkey. While the party successully neutralized the unelected centers o power like the military and the judiciary, growing power consolidation led to erosion in accountability, sidelining o the parliament, and signiﬁcant erosion in reedoms o expression, inorma-
Katerina Dalacoura, “Turkey, Iran and the Arab Uprisings: The Failure of Polical Islam and Post-Ideological Polics,” keynote Lecture at St. Anthony’s College, SEESOX, Oxford,
November 21, 2011, published by
, 2/4, pp. 68-73
tion, and assembly. Tis has been most evident in pressure on the media, which turned urkey into the biggest prison or journalists in the world in 2012. Unsurprisingly, press reedom in urkey deteriorated drastically; its rank declined rom 99
in 2002 to 154
in 2013 in the Press Freedom Index.
Nevertheless, Erdoğan’s growing authoritarianism, majori-tarianism, and exclusionary attitude, which lef little room or dissent and pluralism even within his own party, coupled with his insistence on super-presidentialism to institutionalize a monopoly on power, culminated in widespread societal resistance in June 2013. A varied array o disaﬀected social groups, including anti-capitalist Islamists, LGB, liberals, lefists, and secular-Kemalists joined the Gezi protests. Te diverse background o the protesters supported by a number o Islamic intellectuals and human rights organizations seriously challenged the conception that the protests were a secularist backlash and a “counter-revolution” to the AKP rule. In the ace o such diversity, Erdoğan took his majoritarian and exclusionary understanding o democracy to a new point by heavily investing in social and political polarization, increasing police brutality and censorship, and restricting civil society activism.