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Turkey at the Crossroads: From “Change with Politics as Usual” to Politics with Change as Usual

The article analyzes the new roadmap for Turkey after the summer 2011 elections as not a “resumption” of unfinished business from the last nine years, but from the perspective of the ability of Turkey’s ruling party, the AK Party, as well as the opposition forces and actors to “transform” some anachronistic features of the dominant politics as well as deal with troubling new trends in society. The AK Party governments made progress in many areas by pushing forward a series of far-reaching reforms which have genuinely changed Turkish politics. However, Turkey under AK Party rule includes a society which has failed to shed its extreme hostility toward different ideas, identities and values. Moreover, current opposition parties and movements in Turkey continue to be weak in imagination, vision, capacity and leadership, which have led to rigidities and even deeper political divisions. More importantly, the new government will have to create new possibilities out of its past failures and turn paradoxes, contradictions and ambiguities in politics and society, in the country and in the region, into positive achievements.

Turkey at the Crossroads From Change with Politics as Usual
The 2011 elections could go down in history as ushering in a “spectacular” third term for the AK Party and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who established himself as the most successful popular leader in the country
 

If each government that came to power after the elections were required to give itself a name to epitomize its political roadmap in the term lying ahead, this post-2011 election AK Party (AKP) government would probably like to describe its new term as “change with politics as usual” to reveal the paradoxes of its conception of “change” for Turkey: in the last nine years in office, the party has been responsible for accelerating democratization, reshaping the structures of the traditional Kemalist power centers, including the higher administrative courts and the military; reducing the role of the “secular” establishment led by the heavy-weight military in Turkish politics, thereby passing the psychological threshold of fear of the Kemalist tutelary institutions; turning Turkey into a model in the region, friendly to Islam but distant from militant jihadism; and achieving better public services and a general degree of economic stability and prosperity. The election showed how much the country liked that change; however, the paradox may be that, as many fear, the prime minister’s governing may change little in the next four years.

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