By Halil Magnus Karaveli (vol. 1, no. 7 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rejects the accusation of being anti-secular, instead advancing its own interpretation of secularism. Opinion polls, however, indicate that the AKP’s views are representative of but a minority of the Turkish population. A clear majority appears to believe that secularism is in fact endangered, and there is only minority support for the kind of redefinition of secularism that is sought after by the moderate Islamists.
By the Editors (vol. 1, no. 4 of the Turkey Analyst)
As the confrontation in Turkey over secularism deepens, the psychology and dynamics of the secular opposition need to be better understood. The seculars are animated by the perceived need to defend an identity, which lends the stand-off an intractable character. Democracy risks being imperiled if the moderate Islamist AKP government abstains from taking decisive steps to allay what amounts to existential fears – be they exaggerated or not – of the seculars.
By the Editors (vol. 1, no. 2 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) dominates the country’s political landscape, but few Western analysts have looked closer at the evolution of its leadership structures. A closer analysis nevertheless shows that it has changed significantly, from a collegial leadership team to ever-growing power being transferred to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s personality. At present, Erdogan appears to rule the party in a rather authoritarian fashion, discouraging advice outside the inner circle and the exchange of opinions.
By the Editors (vol. 1, no. 1 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Turkish Parliament’s landmark decision to change the constitution and lift the ban on Islamic headscarves in the universities represents a symbolic watershed in the history of the Turkish republic. It has polarized Turkey as perhaps never before and plunged the country into a crisis from which it will be extremely difficult to extricate without deep convulsions. Turkish intellectuals do not hesitate to issue warnings about civil war. Such warnings may be exaggerated; but Turkey could certainly be headed in a dangerous direction. Hence, conventional assumptions about Turkish political and ideological dynamics need to be revised.
By Kemal Kaya (vol. 7, no. 8 of the Turkey Analyst)
Redistribution through social services and welfare programs is a crucial source of electoral strength for the Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, this model for political success also strains the relation between the AKP and those societal segments that support the welfare programs with their taxes. The results of the March 30 elections demonstrate that support for the AKP is declining among the newly urbanized, conservative middle class, and show that the party faces a new challenge, not unlike the one that has been faced by European social democratic parties in government.
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.