Understanding the AK Party's Identity Politics: A Civilizational Discourse and Its Limitations

By Duran, Burhanettin | Insight Turkey, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Understanding the AK Party's Identity Politics: A Civilizational Discourse and Its Limitations


Duran, Burhanettin, Insight Turkey


Prime Minister Erdogan's address at the AK Party's 4th Grand Congress on September 30th, 2012 initiated a debate on his party's new ideological inclination and the future of Turkish politics. Certain analysts drew attention to the replacement of the AK Party's previous emphasis on "service" (i.e. economic development and concrete projects) by "ideology" and "mission." (1) Other observers interpreted Prime Minister Erdogan's emotional speech marked with references to historical symbols of "the great nation" as a search for a new "Turkish-Islamic synthesis." (2) His emphasis on the shared history of Turks and Kurds, coupled with the 2071 vision (the millenial of the Battle of Manzikert), were believed to represent proof of such a quest. (3) While some commentators argued that the rising volume of conservative and religious values hinted at the formation of "a new nationalism," others claimed this to be a "normalization" of the relationship between religion and politics. (4) Similarly, Prime Minister Erdogan's strongly-worded opposition to Israel's attacks against Gaza on 14-21 November 2012 and his critique of the UNSC's five permanent members was noteworthy. One of the leading themes in this address was Erdogan's emphasis on the Islamic world's role as a crucial actor while accusing the OIC and the Arab League of inaction. This position, coupled with his criticism of the West on the Palestinian issue, led some columnists to view Erdogan's position as "an anti-Western front" and "a quest for the Islamic world's leadership." (5)

This article claims that commentaries and analyses of Prime Minister Erdogan's discourse of civilization in recent years point to the AK Party's three key confrontations with the past: (a) the National Outlook movement from where most founding members emerged, (b) the Kemalist ideology that shaped the Republican period, and (c) the regional order that emerged after World War I and entered a period of profound transformation with the Arab revolutions. "Conservative democracy"--a term that connotes the ideological and political framework for all three of these confrontational processes--reshuffles Islamist, nationalist, pro-Western and Ottomanist elements that collectively constitute the Ottoman-Turkish modernization process' alternative ideological currents.

This discourse of civilization presents concepts and symbols dynamically connects with the aforementioned political currents accompanies their changing needs. In line with the period's overall atmosphere, the AK Party that appeared 'pro-Western' in the EU context and now emerges as a 'pro-ummah' and 'Middle Eastern' is seeing actors puts forth one set of credentials without abandoning the others. (6) The party views this synthesis as an extension of Turkey's strategic, historical, economic and cultural coordinates. Thus, it claims that it can simultaneously push for EU membership and greater integration with the Islamic world. One may regard the story of Ottoman-Turkish modernization as a struggle between competing discourses of civilization (i.e. pro-Western, Islamist, nationalist). This article's purpose is to demonstrate that the AK Party's novel discourse of civilization represents the latest addition to this tradition and faces noteworthy challenges. In the absence of a strong grasp on this discourse that allows the party to simultaneously legitimize change and continuity, the diversity and flexibility of the AK Party administration's policies--as well as the changes they undergo- are bound to be interpreted as ideological (Islamist) instability or pragmatic reversals. By extension, this would render impossible a well-founded understanding of why society does not respond to the political opposition's criticism based on the party's "failures."

This article first presents the civilizational perspective that encompasses the AK Party's identity, its 10-year performance, and policies. Secondly, it focuses on the ways in which this perspective's multi-layered nature allows for a simultaneous reconciliation with the party's Islamic past, Turkey's Kemalist ideology, and the Middle East's existing regional order. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Understanding the AK Party's Identity Politics: A Civilizational Discourse and Its Limitations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.