Senem Aydın-Düzgit, Can non-democracies support international democracy? Turkey as a case study, Third World Quarterly, July 2019
In recent years, there has been a rise of interest in the concept of autocracy promotion, with scholars questioning whether the efforts by authoritarian governments to influence political transitions beyond their borders are necessarily pro-authoritarian. An extension of this question is whether some authoritarian governments may at times find it in their interest to support democracy abroad. This article aims to answer this question by focusing on the case of Turkey. It argues that, despite its rapidly deteriorating democracy since the late 2000s, Turkey has undertaken democracy support policies with the explicit goal of democratic transition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during the Arab Spring and, while not bearing the intention of democratic transition, has employed democracy support instruments in the form of state-building in sub-Saharan Africa since 2005 to the present day. Based on original fieldwork, the article finds that non-democracies can turn out as democracy supporters, if and when opportunities for strategic gains from democratisation abroad arise. The article further suggests that even in those cases where strategic interests do not necessitate regime change, a non-democracy may still deploy democracy support instruments to pursue its narrow interests, without adhering to an agenda for democratic transition.
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