The 2011 elections marked the emergence of the AKP as a political brand that is likely to win all the elections in the foreseeable future. The party’s overwhelming popularity is linked to its image as the most reliable and trustworthy political party today. The ambitious democratization promises of the AKP created hopes for a paradigm shift in Turkish politics in the aftermath of the elections. However the AKP’s overemphasis on its brand name and its consequent monopolization of the democratization process, excluding Turkey’s other parties, have raised concerns over the fulfillment of a more profoundly democratic participatory system in Turkey. Moreover, the AKP’s adoption of populist rhetoric and stereotypes, which is usually the hallmark of Turkey’s right-wing traditionalist parties, raises further concerns. Finally, the failure of the main opposition CHP to form a coherent platform to challenge the AKP’s monopoly over Turkey’s political scene has contributed to the growing skepticism for a new democratic political paradigm in Turkey.
Turkey under the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has represented an opportunity to go beyond the Orientalist modernization framework and produce “value” by countering the culturalist arguments that foreclose the possibilities of democratization in modernizing Muslim countries. The secular opposition, however, has reproduced the logic of the February 28 process and has therefore immobilized and forced the AKP into a struggle to survive, both as a political party and as the elected government of the country. It is this power struggle that has come to epitomize the democratization debate and the democratization process in Turkey. In this context of an impoverished democratization debate, it remains to be seen whether and to what extent the AKP can accomplish the task of revitalizing the constitutive capacities of politics in Turkey.