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Monday, 30 January 2017

Exit from democracy: Illiberal governance in Turkey

Kerem Oktem and Karabekir Akkoyunlu of the University of Graz presented on this theme on 25 January: David Madden chaired.

Kerem described the overlapping democratic backsliding in Turkey and its various neighbourhoods after the June 2015 elections when AKP lost its absolute majority. There followed the rise of populism and authoritarianism, the November 2015 elections, the de facto executive Presidency, the attempted coup of 15 July 2016, the state of emergency and suspension of the rule of law. This was against the background of the progressive retreat of liberalism in the US and the EU; and the return of Russia as a power centre of illiberal governance. As a second key theme he outlined the peril of secular middle class nostalgia for Kemalism. Kurds, non-Muslims and Alevis had always experienced a different Turkey, even during the space for freedom in the early 2000s; and the Kemalist project collapsed because of the contradiction between enlightenment and racism. Thirdly, the arrangements which assured AKP power and popular support, through a government- dependent civil society, might now be dissolving.