Turkey is a country in turmoil. Once the shining example of “Muslim democracy” in the region, the polity is now cited as a prime case of descent into populist authoritarianism. The 2018 elections not only sealed the state’s transformation into a presidential system but marked a crucial political turning point for President Tayyip Erdoğan’s project of building a “New Turkey.” For his supporters, this vision promises a prosperous country with a strong leader who could discard a century of Kemalism and restore the Turkish imperial grandiose power of former times. Opponents criticise the New Turkey, centred on Erdoğan’s persona, for being Islamist, nationalist, and authoritarian. Meanwhile, Erdoğan is realising his project in a volatile context of growing tension and polarisation within society, a looming economic crisis, as well as sudden outbursts and unexpected rapprochements in foreign affairs.
This GIGA Forum will investigate the roots and routes of Turkey’s authoritarian turn. Hakkı Taş will analyse the domestic dynamics and realignments that sustain the current political system. Roy Karadağ will discuss the European and United States responses to this New Turkey, and the meaning of the country’s authoritarian turn for its relations with the European Union. Finally, Hürcan Aslı Aksoy will address the societal implications of Erdoğan’s New Turkey project and how 16 years of Justice and Development Party rule have affected civil society – in particular, the women’s rights movements.
Dr. Hakkı Taş is a research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies.
Dr. Hürcan Aslı Aksoy is a research associate at the Chair for Middle East Politics and Society at the Institute for Political Science of the University of Erlangen–Nürnberg.
Dr. Roy Karadağ is the managing director of the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) at the University of Bremen.
Dr. Christiane Fröhlich is a research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies.