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The AKP and Normalizing Democracy in Turkey

Ahmet Insel
The AKP and Normalizing Democracy in Turkey
I he parliament that emerged from the gen¬eral elections on November 3, 2002, in Turkey has created an unexpected possibility of exit from the authoritarian regime established after the military coup of September 12, 1980.1 The 1982 Constitution, to which I will refer as the September 12 regime, aimed to impose on the society an authoritarian and conservative statist conception of politics. The September 12 regime made the concept of the state sacred. It placed a radical statism at the center of the principle of republicanism, and it took care to have this prin¬ciple hang over politics like Demokles's sword. It systematized the authoritarianism that was one of the innate characteristics of the Turkish Republic, and institutionalized the transfer of the administrative center of this authoritarian¬ism from the civil to the military bureaucracy,2 to achieve a politically and socially stable but economically dynamic new regime.

Thanks to the intensification of the inter¬nal contradictions of the September 12 regime, the results of the November 3 elections cre¬ated the possibility of leaving this conservative statist-authoritarian regime behind under the leadership of a conservative-democratic political/social movement. This development signals a possibility of political transformation that is impor¬tant in the context of Turkey's recent history. To assess the potential signifi¬cance of this event, it will be useful to consider the 1982 Constitution, which inhibited the political development of Turkish society for twenty years, and the structure determining the qualities of the institutions and traditions deriving from that Constitution.

The Characteristics of the September 12 Regime
The architects of the September 12 regime desired to construct a political sphere with the state at its center. This project reflected a political concep¬tion that perceived the state as the center and the society as the periphery. The different wings of politics, its left and its right, were to be determined according to this center. With this aim in view, it was stipulated that political parties would conform to a single type in their establishment and opera¬tion, that organic ties between political parties and other social organiza¬tions would be prevented by means of a series of prohibitions, and that the clustering of votes around a few central parties would be made obligatory by means of the 10 percent threshold for representation in the parliament. To this was added the opportunity for military tutelage institutionalized through the strengthening of the political powers of the National Security Council (MGK, or Milli Guvenlik Kurulu). Because the 1982 Constitution was legitimized under the shadow of military intervention and by means of a referendum during which oppositional propaganda was prohibited, it was not difficult to put in place this new regime of military tutelage that went beyond the traditional military-politics relationship in the Turkish Republic.

The architects of the regime hoped that political actors adapted to the new conditions would emerge in the sphere vacated through political pro¬hibitions. They therefore banned the prominent political figures of the ‘‘old regime’’ from politics. In this way, the tradition of ‘‘ban from politics’’ due to political activities was established—a tradition whose effects continue to this day. After a brief period of liberalization between 1983 and 1985, the state-centered structure was consolidated by the conservatives by the institution of a state-of-emergency environment, in response to the rapidly escalating confrontations with the PKK (the illegal Kurdish Labor Party and its armed forces). In this way, the authoritarian conception of politics that constituted the heart of the third republican regime was prevented from weakening. The political parties that were obliged to conduct their activi¬ties in an extremely limited sphere stiffened even further the authoritarian reflexes that already existed in the Turkish political tradition because they had to adopt these authoritarian conceptions in order to remain legitimate.

The September 12 regime initiated a political period during which the greatest number of parties were closed down in Turkish history. Not only were the small and marginal parties outside the parliament closed down, but parties represented in the parliament as well.3 A category of political activity crime was created, the political immunity of some "illegitimate" members of parliament was lifted, their membership in parliament was cancelled, and they were imprisoned. At the same time these threats were directed at other political actors.

The September 12 regime had trapped itself: it had the state at its center, saw the society as the threat besieging this center, and considered authori¬tarian methods legitimate in defending itself against that threat. It mainly relied on the reproduction of political and social stagnation to maintain its control. The concept of stability, which was obsessively reiterated, referred to a state of immobility in which the institutions of the September 12 regime and the hierarchy among them would not be upset. The aim was to compen¬sate for this immobility by means of economic dynamism and to direct the social energy that could not flow into political and cultural channels to the area of economic growth. In the 1980s, the liberty that was not permitted in the areas of politics and culture was permitted in the economic sphere. It was not possible, however, for a social energy that had been repressed and restricted in the spheres of politics, culture, and identity to create a long-lived and constructive force of attraction in the economic sphere. It was doomed to remain limited to occasional bursts of dynamism that quickly died out.

From 1980 to today, the only breach in the authoritarian state-centered view occurred through the economic liberalization attempt under Özal's masterly leadership. Özal belonged to the same modernizationist conserva¬tive world as today's AKP. In 1978, he ran for parliament as a candidate for the National Salvation Party (MSP, or Milli Selamet Partisi), but failed to be elected. As prime minister after 1983, he enacted a program for economic liberalization, which the architects of the September 12 regime could not quite stomach but unwillingly accepted as being dictated by modern times. This liberalism of enterprise remained weak in terms of ramifications in the political sphere and gave precedence to opportunism and a "fixer" mentality in pursuit of easy profits. This urge was not balanced by social institutions, and the autonomous activity in the political sphere was reduced to the dis¬tribution of economic spoils, which promoted a certain kind of primitive accumulation of capital; that is, the attempt to appropriate already-produced value and to use political power to procure a larger share in distribution, rather than accumulating value by means of production. In addition to caus¬ing wage earners' share in the national income to become smaller and the inequalities among wage earners to increase, this struggle over distribution intensified the rivalry between the rising enterprise groups in the provinces and the traditional republican bourgeoisie.

The conservative-liberal synthesis that found fertile ground for self-expression in Özal's pragmatism hoped that social and political stability/ immobility could be secured through economic dynamism alone. As a result, the economy, which was the only space for action, drew politics into itself and instrumentalized it. The political parties, whose capacities for action in the political sphere had been restricted, had no choice but to shape their political activities according to this mechanism of distribution and to become brokers for it. Politics became much more subjected to the periodic fluctuations of economic activity. The rapid erosion of the public's confi¬dence in the future further strengthened the instability of economic life. The crisis of February 2001, in fact not only an economic crisis but also a sign of the institutional collapse and paralysis of the September 12 regime, was the beginning of the end: the complete and almost irreparable break¬down of the economy, which had until then been the only sphere of free social activity. Soon after, the regime collapsed as well.

At the end of a process in which the inner contradictions of the Septem¬ber 12 regime intensified, the system became clogged, and the circuits of economic and political crisis became accelerated by mutually reinforcing each other, an electoral system that had been the invention of the authori¬tarian regime suddenly precipitated the conditions for leaving itself behind. A purging wave swept the political stage, leaving almost all of the parties shaped according to the political philosophy of September 12 and their tradi¬tional leaders outside the parliament. Like every rigid structure, the narrow and hardened political structure imposed by the September 12 regime was incapable of adaptation, and the party located at the greatest distance from the state obtained a sweeping majority in the parliament.

This was not the first time the mechanisms of this electoral system back¬fired. Earlier, thanks to the simple majority system instituted by the Sep¬tember 12 regime, Tayyip Erdogan had become the mayor of Istanbul in 1994, even though only a quarter of the voters voted for him. Everybody in Turkey, especially the conservative statists, knew that this electoral sys¬tem had to change. But no mobilizing force that could realize this change emerged. The political energy of the September 12 regime had been ex¬hausted. It was able to defend itself only by pushing the limits of jurispru¬dence, availing itself of far-fetched interpretations that perverted the intent behind the laws and seeking shelter under the shadow of the covert military intervention that occurred on February 28, 1997. Rather than introducing a just electoral system and thus preventing Erdoğan from getting reelected as mayor with only, say, one third of the total votes, the political authority chose to imprison Erdoğan and permanently ban him from politics because he had recited a poem of mediocre literary quality with a nationalist content including Islamic motifs. Even this was sufficient proof that the regime had been deprived of the capacity to reproduce itself within its own parameters. The September 12 regime had entered its glacial period.

The New Middle Class
The economic policies implemented in the politically repressive environ¬ment of the September 12 regime dealt a serious blow against the tradi¬tional middle classes favored by protectionist policies. This middle class, comprised of urban artisans and midsize traders and farmers in Western Anatolia, wage earners, most of whom worked in the public sector, and large private-firm employees who had been able to raise their purchas¬ing power thanks to the right of collective bargaining, lost its economic standing because of the new policies. The traditional middle class began to be replaced by a new one. The conservative cultural affinity between the traditional class of provincial artisans and traders on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the small- and midrange enterprisers who live mostly in midsize cities and some of whom are employer and employee simul¬taneously, and the young executives who have received university educa¬tion, especially in technical fields, caused these groups to become united and to constitute the nucleus of a new middle class. The great distance separating the traditional republican bourgeoisie from this new middle class, which is culturally conservative, politically nationalist and moderately authoritarian, economically liberal, or rather, on the side of free enterprise, became considerably more marked during the last period. This rising class of conservative enterprisers chose to be represented in the new Associa¬tion of Independent Industrialists and Businessmen (MÜSIAD, or Müstakil Sanayici ve İşadamları Derneği) rather than in the previously established Association of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen (TÜSIAD).4 The natural political representatives of this new middle class were the Mother¬land Party (ANAP, or Anavatan Partisi) and the True Path Party (DYP, or Doğru Yol Partisi), both having evolved from the tradition of the Justice Party (AP, or Adalet Partisi), rather than the Islamist parties of the National Order Party/National Salvation Party line. However, ANAP and DYP, both of which came into power several times in various coalitions in the 1990s, rapidly lost the capacities for political representation and mobilization.5 The vacuum that the traditional rightist parties were unable to fill became one of the principal causes of instability dominating the parliament from 1995 up to the November 3 elections in 2002.

The results of the November 3 elections show that, for now, the AKP is the clear winner in the struggle to become the political representative of the new middle class. Whether this representation is permanent depends mostly on the ability of the AKP government to fulfill its promises of eco¬nomic stability and growth in the middle term. Viewed in this perspective, it is evident that the main axis of the AKP government program is consti¬tuted by the aim of increasing production through the reestablishment of stability and trust. The AKP sees the small- and midsize firms as the main force in the realization of the aims of creating jobs and economic vitality. When one considers the approach of this capitalist group, and especially of MÜSIAD, to labor relations, one sees that it defines wage labor ‘‘not as a social stratum possessing rights pertaining to trade unions and social security at the level of class or the individual, but as a 'member providing services' for the organic unity of the economy.’’6 In this sense, the AKP's defense of social justice is based on the strengthening of traditional rela¬tionships of charity and cooperation rather than the strengthening of indi¬vidual and social rights. The AKP brings its conservatism to the foreground by emphasizing such traditions, especially those related to the family.
The political and economic careers of a significant number of the AKP elites were determined by their exclusion by the republican elites. A real class struggle continues to be waged between the traditional upper-middle class and the new middle class —a struggle whose external appearance is characterized by the symbols of identity politics but, at the same time, related to economic positions. The instinctive reactions and fears of the laicist elite in the face of the AKP and the political stance it represents have their source mainly in the anxiety of losing a hegemonic position; they reflect a certain kind of class position. The clash between the radical laicists and the Islamists in Turkey is not only a clash between moderniza-tionists and traditionalists, but also a clash between the high (havas) and the low (avam) dating from the final period of the Ottoman Empire. The AKP's coming to power with a parliamentary majority, enabling a single-party government, constitutes an important threshold in this nearly century-old conflict.

In addition to receiving the votes of the new middle class the AKP received votes from a good portion of the working class. A sense of belonging that blended political and cultural values resulted in many from the working classes, which did not occupy the position of a middle class but which aspired to such a position, to turn to the AKP. The new middle-class sense of belonging that finds expression in the person of Tayyip Erdoğan has determinations that go beyond his being a ‘‘child of the people’’ who has risen from the bottom. Erdoğan consolidated this sense of belonging by virtue of being someone who has for the most part avoided the paths fol¬lowed by the traditional republican elites. The new, growing middle class was able to identify easily with Erdoğan, who did not fit the traditional republican elite image. The other leaders could at best be ‘‘on the side of the people.’’ Among the political leaders prominent in the history of the Turkish Republic, Erdoğan was the person most clearly and authentically ‘‘one of the people.’’ He represented a new middle-class elite that deserved to displace the republican elites formed and thus "domesticated" by the state, even if they had originally come from among the people.

The AKP's assumption of a more authentic and more humble posture com¬pared to the executive staff of the other parties, or at least, their behavior facilitating such a perception, impressed the mass of voters. This authen¬ticity and humility evident in the majority of the people constituting the AKP administration produces an important power of attraction in the eyes of the new conservative modernizationist middle class. Viewed in this way, the AKP's ‘‘unstoppable march to power’’ could be understood as a more authentic and humble continuation of the process that started with Özal.

It would be more correct to say that the new middle class rather than the AKP now occupies the center of politics since the November 3 elections. Consequently, the other rightist parties trying to attract voters away from the AKP will have to conduct a politics oriented toward this conservative modernizationist world. The reactions and expectations of this new middle class, whose conflict with the state is historically conditioned rather than being a matter of principle, will force the rightist parties to abandon the sphere of state-centered politics. If the AKP government achieves relative success in relation to EU membership, the solution of the Cyprus prob¬lem, and economic growth, there will be a flow of political elites from such central rightist parties as ANAP and DYP, and even from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP, or Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi), toward the AKP. Asa result, the number of proponents of the Islamist ‘‘National Outlook’’ (Millî Görüş) within the party will decrease, and the other rightist parties will for the most part disappear into history, which could lead to the isolation of such radical nationalist-conservative-authoritarian movements as MHP and BBP (the Great Unity Party, or Büyük Birlik Partisi). Provided that the leftist-social democratic movements do not aspire to the status of state parties, the mission of being the ‘‘party of the state’’ could become limited to a narrow archaic nationalist group.7 Such a development would mean the achievement of a democratic transformation from the bottom. At the end of that development, a quiet, mild transition that would nevertheless be radical in terms of its consequences would be possible toward a nor¬mal democratic regime in Turkey—a regime in which the center of gravity of politics would be distanced from the military-civil bureaucracy, and the political movements nourished by large sections of the society would estab¬lish themselves at the center of politics.

If the state-society relations in Turkey had been realized on a normal democratic basis, the AKP would have had to take its place as a rightist "establishment" party in the political arena, in view of the values it repre¬sents and its economic-social program. But the distortions of political rep¬resentation in the traditional republican order, its structure based on the hegemony of statist-laicist forces, the deep suspicion these forces harbor against the majority of the society, and, in more general terms, the transformation of the authoritarian project of modernization from above that is almost cotemporaneous with the republic into a more rigid conservatism, gave the AKP an opportunity to act as a democratic movement and to consti¬tute a social force of attraction without abandoning its conservative posture and values. The AKP was able to claim with sufficient credibility that it had achieved a developmentalist, moderately solidaristic synthesis between free enterprise and conservative values.

AKP Conservatism
The AKP has undertaken the mission of ending the September 12 regime whether it likes it or not, but its capacity to fulfill this undertaking should be assessed by considering the characteristics of the social groups it repre¬sents. The AKP is a culturally conservative movement that harbors strong authoritarian tendencies and a vigorous nationalistic vein. The authori¬tarian patriarchal reflexes of the family tradition rooted in the Turkish soil are reflected in the values and the behavior of the AKP cadres in the form of traditionalism.8 The tendency to transform these authoritarian patriar¬chal reflexes into a nationalist-statist conservatism is represented within the AKP by the cadres coming from the tradition of the Turk-Islam syn¬thesis. But aspirations to become a pragmatic middle-class party also have an important place in this structure. This pragmatism corresponds to such values of economic liberalism as entrepreneurship and efficiency. The con¬fidence produced by the belief that the party reflects the cultural values of a sweeping majority in Turkish society can also lead this pragmatism to manifest itself in the form of tolerance.

The dominant profile that emerges from a blend of all these tenden¬cies is reminiscent of popular American conservatism. Indeed, it is not a coincidence that the American conservative circles forming the heart of the Republican Party constitute the one social formation outside Turkey with which an important section of the AKP elites feels the closest affinity, both in terms of background and aspirations.

Among all the Western societies, America is the most religious, and this is not a recent phenomenon,9 originating in the eighteenth century and con¬tinuing today. The religiosity of Americans constitutes an anomaly against the law, articulated by such sociologists as Comte and Weber, that moder¬nity is accompanied by ‘‘the disenchantment of the world.’’ In this sense, the American exception continues to pose a question that is not completely answered for sociologists. Americans, who create the most advanced appli¬cations of modern science, who have adapted to the requirements of science and technology, who have in many respects been the most modern society of the last century, who live in a society in which materialist values domi¬nate daily life, and who should thus be the least likely people, according to Weber, to turn to religion for the interpretation of the world and human existence, continue to be the most religious people among economically advanced Western societies. Raymond Boudon is of the opinion that the solutions Adam Smith, Alexis Tocqueville, and Max Weber provided for this mystery are still valid and not transcended.10

Outside the radical but marginalized circles that represent the extremes of conservatism in the United States, religion is experienced as a body of moral precepts, and not as the concrete manifestation of dogma. For this reason, American laicism is extremely tolerant in allowing people to prac¬tice their religious beliefs fully and freely, but it is uncompromising about the principle that the requirements of religious dogma cannot be imposed on people despite their wishes. American popular conservatism attributes an absolutely superior value to the freedom of enterprise. It holds the belief that the organization of social solidarity through the mediation of the state encourages laziness and dependence. It believes, not in the social state, but in the institution of the family, individual generosity, and voluntary acts of charity conducted through foundations. It sees the home as the natural place and child-rearing as the natural duty of women. It is "prolife" in this context, too, not only in its opposition to abortion. On the other hand, in contrast to elitist conservatism, popular conservatism does not hold itself superior to society by virtue of lineage. In terms of tastes, lifestyles, and family relationships, it represents, not an upper-class attitude, but a much more common cultural world.

This approach, which interprets religious values as moral values guiding social behavior, which is very sensitive about the freedom of conscience, and which understands and values nationalism, not as love of the state, but as love of country, is much closer to the AKP than the Christian-democratic traditions of continental Europe. It would of course be meaningless to look for all the characteristics of American conservatism in such a political for¬mation as the AKP, which originated in a different history and geography. But the cultural codes of the AKP do exhibit similarities with moderate and popular American conservatism. It is not a coincidence that the views of the AKP's young executive cadres resonate closely with the American Republi¬can conservative movement. The AKP enterprise represents a moderniza-tionist conservative stage of the Turkish Muslim tradition, which is in the process of secularization. It presents a mature, more consistent, and more authentic version of the American-style liberal-conservative development that had partially started with Özal.

Conservative-Liberal versus Conservative-Democrat?
The November 3 election results show that the field of action for the left has become even narrower in Turkish society.11 Such a movement as the AKP, which comes from within the conservative world and claims to be democ¬ratizing that world through modernization, has an opportunity to become the initiating force for a normalized regime of democracy. In recent years, statist-laicist elites have narrowed the limits of the political legitimacy of democracy and have defended a concept of republic with strong overtones of authoritarianism. They have been inflexible and harsh in their reaction to the demands for the recognition of a Kurdish identity and in their reaction to the demands for the acknowledgment of the existence of authentic Mus¬lim identities in the public sphere. In some cases, for instance in the matter of female students' demand to attend universities wearing head scarves, the reaction of the traditional republican elites smacked of class clash: the upper class disturbed by ‘‘the people’’ invading the public sphere. The AKP was also able to channel the reactions against the unjust distribution of wealth that had become even more severe as a result of the economic crisis of the late 1990s, and the reactions against corruption revealed in the wake of the November 3 election: the fraudulent bankruptcies of banks, the ties of mutual interest that politicians established with business circles, and a sort of ‘‘jet set’’ lifestyle widely displayed in the media. It assumed the role of the patron of ‘‘the victimized, the excluded, and the oppressed,’’ filling a space that should normally have been occupied by leftist-social democratic parties.

The AKP takes pains to avoid defining itself as a religious party, and from a political point of view its program has the characteristics of a demo¬cratic party program.12 It takes as its basis the principle that ‘‘nobody is free unless everybody is free,’’ and proposes that ‘‘democratization be achieved by placing the individual at the center of all policies.’’ It declares its accep¬tance of Turkish society ‘‘with all its colors, its points of commonality and difference,’’ emphasizing the potential for enrichment and strength offered by this fact. The program's emphasis on the consolidation of a ‘‘state based on the rule of law’’ instead of ‘‘law based on the rule of the state,’’ its reitera¬tion of the necessity that ‘‘decisions concerning public life must be made by elected representatives,’’ its statement that democracy is distinguished from all other regimes by the fundamental principle of the sovereignty of the people, and its definition of democracy as a system based on tolerance are all signs that the AKP could be a consistent defender of a pluralist par¬liamentary regime.

On the subject of laicism as well, the AKP program expresses a demo¬cratic approach in a consistent way. It characterizes laicism as an indispens¬able condition of democracy and the guarantee of the freedom of religion and conscience. Laicism is presented in this framework as a ‘‘principle of freedom and social peace.’’ As for the conservative dimension, it comes to the foreground in the conception of ‘‘religion as one of the most important institutions of humanity,’’ and the emphasis that is placed on ‘‘preventing behavior that offends religious people.’’

The AKP states that it considers ‘‘the historical experience and cultural wealth of our nation a solid ground for our future’’ and defines itself as con¬servative. It compares society to a ‘‘living organism that survives by replen¬ishing itself in the cultural environment constituted by such entrenched institutions as the family, education, property, religion, and morality.’’ It describes the development of this organism by means of an anticonstructiv-ist argument in the style of Hayek, thus clearly marking its distance from the Kemalist project of modernization: ‘‘The local culture and institutions that are produced and unified within their own natural processes without external intervention do not conflict with universal values.’’

The AKP expresses its conservatism most clearly and strongly with regard to the subject of the family and women. The program emphasizes the pri¬ority that ‘‘family centered policies’’ have for the party and chooses to dis¬cuss the participation of women in economic life from the perspective of ‘‘its connection to peace in the family.’’ Instead of acknowledging the exis¬tence of a distinct problem regarding women, it prefers to treat this issue in the context of the institution of the family defined as ‘‘a strong institu¬tion of social security’’ and as the institution that has enabled ‘‘the society to remain intact despite the economic problems it experienced.’’ In cer¬tain cases, the women's organizations of the AKP have also expressed the view that it is more natural and appropriate for women to remain in the home. For instance, some of the AKP's women members of parliament have asserted that working in "home-offices" is more suitable for women.13 The same popular conservative approach is reflected in Tayyip Erdoğan's decla¬ration, in the summer of 2002, of "a Muslim-Turkish Turkey with a popula¬tion of one hundred million as a target,’’ and his claim, in this context, that ‘‘population-planning for development is a betrayal of country.’’

The program, which defends a classical liberalism in the economic sphere, does not go beyond a very moderate principle of social solidarity in terms of social policies. It claims, in popular conservative fashion, that cor¬ruption lies at the root of social injustice. This claim reflects the belief that the state can never be effective in the economic and social sphere. Along the same lines, the program does not neglect to promise a massive reduction in general and social security taxes. To sum up, the program constitutes a synthesis of conservatism and liberalism.

In terms of its government program, the properties that distinguish the AKP from other political parties are not found in the areas of the economy and social policy. Almost everybody in Turkey acknowledges that a very nar¬row margin for choice exists regarding these issues, considering the dimen¬sions of the economic crisis and the international commitments that have been made. Naturally, the AKP's voters will look for the criteria of its success or failure in its achievements in the areas of economic growth and employ¬ment. But this is not a short-term expectation. The AKP represents a new stage in the Westernization movement in Turkey—the stage at which the society becomes involved. In this sense, it represents a threshold for a pro¬cess through which Turkish Westernization can be turned upside down. The new middle class supporting the AKP will measure its success with refer¬ence not only to its economic performance, but also the political and social consequences of this conservative democratic transformation from below. For this reason the AKP feels the need to become much more engaged with such issues as solving the Cypress problem, finalizing Turkey's member¬ship in the EU, and putting the democratization package into practice. It is also highly probable that its economic and social liberalism will have prece¬dence over its democratic sensibilities while realizing these goals.

The fact that the program of the AKP government places the greatest emphasis on the economy does not mean that this party has no claims regarding transformation in other areas. An important reason for the prom¬inence of the economy in the program is the fact that the identity of the middle class it represents is shaped primarily through economic activity. The AKP can expand its space of action in its relations with the state by rely¬ing on a legitimacy articulated in economic terms. Its leaders expect to be empowered by the legitimacy that their economic achievements will pro¬vide for them and to use this power to eliminate the premodern residues located in the state, or to force them to subjection. When such a stage is reached, it will become possible to tell whether the AKP will be content to defend democracy only for itself or whether it will try to build the new social order on democratic foundations.

The Exit from the September 12 Regime
The results of the November 3 elections had the effect of an earthquake on Turkey's political order. The unexpected new composition of the parlia¬ment, the fact that the party positioned at the most distant point from the state has formed a majority government, and the aspirations and expecta¬tions of the new middle classes supporting this party provide reasons to think that an opportunity for a mild but radical exit from the September 12 regime has arisen. The realization of such an exit, not by the traditional Westernizers, but by a movement like the AKP, which Westernizing-statist elites regard with suspicion, will finally make the normalization of Tur¬key's century-old Westernization adventure possible. Turkey is now going through a paradoxical period in which statist-Westernizing elites are forced to swerve into anti-Western positions, and the West is defended by Islamic, Kurdish, and other movements of identity politics, which shows that the exit from the authoritarian regime will be realized when the polarization that traverses the entire republican history, the polarization that appears to be between modernizationists and traditionalists but is actually between the republican elites and the people, loses effect and leaves its place to more normal dynamics of social polarization and conflict. Such a development, if it indeed occurs, will be one of the most important transformations deter¬mining the future of Turkey.
1 In the elections, in which the rate of participation was 79 percent, the Justice and Devel¬
opment Party (AKP, or Adaletve Kalkmma Partisi) won 34.3 percent (10,779,489 votes),
and the Republican People's Party (CHP, or Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi) won 19.4 percent
of all valid votes. Because a party needs to receive at least 10 percent of the votes on a
national basis in order to be represented in the parliament, the other parties that entered
the elections and received 46 percent of the valid votes collectively could not send any
representatives to the parliament. The new parliament opened with 366 members from
the AKP, 191 members from the CHP, and eight independent members.
2 Ahmet Insel, "Otoriterizmin Siirekliligi" [The continuity of authoritarianism], Birikim,
no. 125/126 (1999): 143-67.
3 In 1994 the Democracy Party, which conducted political activities targeting the Kurdish
problem, was closed down, the immunity of its thirteen members in the parliament was
lifted, and these members of parliament were arrested. Four of them are still in prison.
The Welfare Party (RP, or Refah Partisi) was closed down in 1998, and the party estab¬
lished in its place, the Virtue Party (FP, or Fazilet Partisi), met the same fate in 2001.
Between 1983 and 2002, a total of twenty-one political parties were closed down by the
decision of the Constitutional Court.
4 For a discussion of how MUSIAD was founded to organize the entrepreneurs who had
been historically excluded from state favors in order to bind them into a coherent commu¬
nity through ample use of Islamic references, and a consideration of the close relation¬
ships between MÜSIAD and the leaders of Islamic politics, see Ayşe Buğra, ‘‘Class, Cul¬
ture, and State: An Analysis of Two Turkish Business Associations,’’ International Journal
of Middle East Studies, no. 30 (1998): 521-39.
5 The most significant sign of the crisis of representation experienced in the world of
business during the 1990s was the rapid increase in the number of political/religious
organizations of businessmen. In addition to TÜSİAD, representing the owners of big
firms, and MÜSİAD, representing Muslim businessmen, the Association of Nationalist
Industrialists and Businessmen (USIAD, or Ulusalcı Sanayiciler ve İşadamları Derneği)
formed by leftist Kemalist businessmen opposed to Turkey's membership in the EU, the
Association of Republican Industrialists and Businessmen (CUSIAD, or Cumhuriyetçi
Sanayiciler ve İşadamları Derneği) formed by Alawi businessmen, and the regional busi¬
nessmen associations constitute a telling manifestation of the crisis of representation
experienced by this social group.
6 Fuat Keyman, "Demokratiklesme ve AKP" [Democratization and the AKP], Radikah,
December 1, 2002.
7 In the short time since the new parliament started to operate, it has been possible to
observe that the ‘‘social democratic’’ CHP bases its parliamentary opposition on not stray¬
ing too far from the axis of a state party.
8 In the opinion poll conducted by Yılmaz Esmer, voters who have voted for different politi¬
cal parties agree that raising a child ‘‘to be respectful toward elders’’ has greater priority
than raising a child ‘‘to be industrious and tolerant toward others, and to know how to
protect his or her own interests.’’ This shows how widespread patriarchal conservatism is. Two-thirds of AKP voters and 41 percent of CHP voters are of this opinion. Milliyet, November 16, 2002.
9 For a comparison of developed European societies and the United States in terms of reli¬gious values, see R. Inglehart, M. Basavez, and A. Moreno, Human Values and Beliefs: A Cross-Cultural Sourcebook (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1998).
10 Raymond Boudon, "Les croyances collectives," in Qu'est-ce que la vie psychique, ed.
Y. Michaud (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2002).
11 The total percentage of votes for the left in the last election is 29 percent. If a complete
system of proportionate representation had been used, the entire left would end up with
fewer seats in the parliament than those CHP has today. If we divide the votes that are
not represented in the current parliament roughly between right and left, it becomes evi¬
dent that voters with rightist preferences have a lower representation than the total votes
they have cast. Granted, in a system of proportionate representation without a minimum
vote threshold, voting behavior would have been different. It is also true that one cannot
compare the relative significance of a member in the current parliament with that of a
member in a parliament composed of more than two parties. A single member in the
latter has much greater weight than in the former. Despite all this, however, one could
not claim that the left currently has a lower representation in the parliament than the
total number of votes it received in the November 3 election.
12 "Adalet ve Kalkmma Partisi Programi" [The program of the Justice and Development
Party] (Ankara: AKP, 2002).
13 "AKP'nin Cinsiyetciligi" [The sexism of the AKP], Postexpress, November 2002.