The Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) more than 13 years rule has ushered in a debate as to whether the AK Party has become a “dominant party” and if so, whether Turkey is experiencing a new type of party system, a dominant-party system. In this article, we first attempt to denote the terms ‘dominant party’ and ‘dominant-party system,’ and to shed light on the distinction between these two terms by drawing on the works of Duverger, Sartori, Pempel, and Greene. This article will then analyse Turkey’s experience under the AK Party to determine whether the AK Party can aptly be categorized as a “dominant party,” and Turkey as having a “dominant-party system.” Relying primarily on Greene’s conceptual framework, we contend that it is safe to denote the AK Party as a dominant party and to designate Turkey’s political system as a “dominant party system.”
Turkish foreign policy under the AK Party government has long drawn scrutiny from a wide range of analysts. The Syrian uprising has raised the intensity, variance, and rapid change of such analysis. Though the events in Syria have forced a recalibration of Turkish foreign policy, this change can be better understood with attention to the history of the AK Party’s foreign policy. That history is rooted in a tradition of both continuity and change vis-à-vis the AK Party’s political Islamist predecessors, the Refah and Fazilet parties. By understanding the values, motivations, failures, and lessons of the AK Party’s political forebears, we may better understand the last decade of the AK Party’s foreign policy—and its continuing evolution.