Sarah El-Kazaz

Neubauer Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center



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The AKP and the Gülen: The End of a Historic Alliance

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Sarah El-Kazaz
Middle East Brief 94, July 2015


On June 7, 2015 the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey (AKP) failed to secure an electoral majority in the national-level parliamentary elections for the first time since it came to power in 2002. Although the AKP’s electoral defeat was caused by many converging developments, including the rise of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, an overlooked yet important factor was the split with the Gülen, a religious movement long-considered the main grassroots mobilizer of the AKP. The alliance with the Gülen had been crucial in securing the AKP's electoral victories in the 2002, 2007, and 2011 elections, so its absence was keenly felt during the 2015 elections. In this Brief, Sarah El-Kazaz analyzes the demise of the AKP-Gülen alliance by focusing on three key areas of contention: market-driven economics, EU accession, and Kurdish non-recognition. The Brief concludes with a discussion of the ramifications of the AKP-Gülen rift and its impact on the composition of a new ruling AKP coalition government.

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