Turkey Transformed: The Origins and Evolution of Authoritarianism and Islamization Under the AKP

October, 2015, Bipartisan Policy Center

On June 7, 2015, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in parliament, which it had maintained for 12 years. But, as is increasingly clear, losing an election did not mean losing power. From the presidential palace, the AKP’s de facto leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has ensured that no other political force is given a chance to govern. Instead, Erdoğan has called early elections and relaunched the war against the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a rather transparent attempt to rally the Turkish nationalist vote.

This study’s excavation of the ideological and political origins of the AKP sheds light both on Turkey’s current situation and its future trajectory. In the process, however, it also yields insights about some of the myopic or unwarranted assumptions underlying policy thinking about Turkey that have implications for policymakers going forward.

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