Hikmet Kocamaner

Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center and holds a dual Ph.D. degree in Anthropology and Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Arizona



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How New Is Erdogan’s “New Turkey”?

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Hikmet Kocamaner
Middle East Brief 91, April 2015


In his inaugural address as the first directly elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his election a triumph of the “New Turkey.” This “New Turkey,” he proclaimed, is to be an inversion of the centralist and authoritarian legacy of the Kemalist past and the rise of pluralistic democracy. But how successful have Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) been in fulfilling this promise? In this Brief, Hikmet Kocamaner examines the parallels between the previous Kemalist regime and the current AKP rule by focusing on three shared characteristics: 1) centralization of power through one party rule; 2) the role of a charismatic leader with authoritarian tendencies and 3) the delegitimization of dissent. Kocamaner argues that while the AKP initially garnered widespread support because of its reconciliation with secular-liberal principles and promise to end the authoritarian Kemalist legacy, it has fallen short of achieving democratization and instead deepened its political entrenchment. The Brief concludes by positing that while current AKP policies will not bring the country closer to the promise of a “New Turkey,” the institutionalization of a participatory and pluralistic democracy may eventually move it in that direction.

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