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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Whose Democratization? Periods of transition and voices from below in Turkey

Kivanc Atak

Type: Working Paper
Year: 2012

Turkey’s experience with democracy, at least in its procedural terms, is one which has been discontinuous thanks to repeated military interruptions to civilian rule. Since 1946, Turkey has experienced coups on an almost periodic basis, in the name of protecting the Kemalist foundations of the regime from counter-hegemonic currents however defined. These recurrent takeovers by the armed forces created a vicious circle for the survival of democracy in the country. In the meantime, various contentious players became considerably influential at different points, despite pervasive repression. By contrast, the specific junctures of transition to and resumption(s) of democracy were largely monopolized by military-bureaucratic elites leaving little room for grassroots participation. Still, public demonstrations for democratization were not totally absent, and at times articulated by various civil society and social movement actors. In the last decade, the military’s political tutelage seems to have weakened, yet this did not suffice to save Turkey from being a democracy ‘in danger’, as the authoritarian face of the state took a new form under subsequent AKP governments. Today, the continuous battle of re-democratization and de-democratization is perpetuated in Turkey’s contemporary politics and society, perhaps most notably in the realm of the Kurdish question, while democratic contributors ‘from below’ are trying to increase their salience in a patronizing state.

EUI SPS - Cosmos Working Paper 2012/08

2012WP08COSMOS

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