Muslim Democrats in the Making? Explaning Turkey’s AKP

, by  SOMER Murat

This paper is aimed at contributing to a better understanding of the relationship between religious politics and democracy in general, and political Islam and democracy in particular. For this purpose, the paper takes steps toward explaining the emergence of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), by discussing it in terms of a series of analytical propositions about religious politics and democratic consolidation. The paper shows that the AKP has so far featured a significantly more liberal-democratic and pro-West discourse and program than its predecessors have. It identifies the political-economic and institutional conditions that appear to have facilitated the AKP’s emergence, and places special emphasis on the EU as an external anchor and on the intended and unintended consequences of past pressures by secularist institutions. Theoretical implications as well as conditions that are necessary for the continuation and credibility of the AKP’s liberal-democratization, and the related question of Turkey’s democratic consolidation, are discussed.



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