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Islamization and Declining State Capacity in Turkey
Abstract by Dr. Sebnem Gumuscu On Session I-8  (Islamists in Government)

On Thursday, November 2 at 3:00 pm

2023 Annual Meeting

The AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power in 2002 in Turkey and secured its dominance in successive electoral wins (Carkoglu 2011, Muftuler-Bac and Keyman 2012). Thanks to this electoral and political dominance, the party had the opportunity to shape Turkey’s past, present, and future (Pempel 1990, Gumuscu 2013). The AKP specifically redesigned the political system, restructured the judiciary, established a new economic framework, reformed the education system, and adopted an Islamist approach to socio-cultural practices and urban spaces (Ozbudun 2015, Esen and Gumuscu 2018, Kutlay 2020, Lukuslu 2016). Despite this extensive power, Turkish economy is in crisis with depreciated currency and high levels of inflation, justice system is malfunctioning, educational success is at an all-time low, violence against women at record levels, and disaster relief in wildfires, earthquakes, and floods is feeble. This paper studies the causes behind these failures and argues that the AKP has successfully captured the Turkish state and Islamicized the state cadres. The Islamization of the state cadres, however, undermined meritocratic recruitment traditions and undermined state capacity, causing significant problems in the design and implementation of economic, educational, and social policies. The paper relies on participant observation, official statistics, and archival research to substantiate its central claims.
Political Science
Geographic Area
All Middle East
Sub Area