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The “AKP Model” and Tunisia’s al-Nahda: From Convergence to Competition?

More than a year after the start of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts, the question of how political Islam will return to regional politics is still open. This article explores the differences between the AKP’s Turkish model and the Tunisian al-Nahda movement. The Tunisian and the Turkish case studies are examined and compared on three levels. First of all the historical and structural contexts of the two countries and the relationship between the state and Islam are taken into account. Secondly the two models of political Islam that have developed in Tunisia and Turkey are analyzed. Finally, the two different views of the social, political and economic life proposed by al-Nahda in Tunisia and by the AKP in Turkey are compared. By examining the structural differences between these two contexts, and consequently by looking at the two distinctive ways of understanding Islam in public life, the article will also demonstrate how and why the “Turkish model”, as represented by the AKP, cannot be applied to Tunisia, although the al-Nahda has itself embarked on a process of “de-radicalization.”

The AKP Model and Tunisia s al-Nahda From Convergence to
Erdoğan’s calls for “neo-laicism” as the basis of the new constitutional and institutional set up in Tunisia were implicitly rejected by al-Ghannushi.
 

This paper analyzes the characteristics of the Turkish AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, the Justice and Development Party) and the Tunisian Harakat al-Nahda (Renaissance Movement) using a comparative perspective. This analysis follows the recent rehabilitation of the Tunisian Islamist party after the fall of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben ‘Ali and its emergence as the leading political force in Tunisia after taking 89 out of 217 seats in the October 2011 elections for the Constituent Assembly. The aim of this analysis is to demonstrate that the so-called “Turkish model”—proposed by many scholars and analysts as an example that Tunisia and other countries in the region affected by regime change could follow—is not easily replicable in the post-Arab Spring context. There are three main reasons at different levels why the Tunisian case could be compared with the Turkish model.

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