“The Transformation of Kurdish and Islamist Parties in Turkey”, Pelin Ayan Musil (IIR, Czech Republic) 

This book analyzes the transformation of ethnic and religious political parties in Turkey with special focus on their role in the country’s democratization and regime changes. Turkey went through a process of autocratization under the rule of the AKP government over the last two decades. Scholars question the structural, agent-centered and cultural factors that led the country on this path, and provide the lessons learnt from this case for other cases of democratic decline or breakdown. This book contributes to this debate. It treats the three national elections (2002, 2007, 2015-June) as opportunities for democratization, in which the Islamist-successor AKP (in 2002, 2007) and the Kurdish-successor HDP (in 2015-June) managed to overcome identity politics and received organized support from social groups outside of their traditional constituency.

This book argues that in a semi-democratic context where repressive acts of the state (e.g. banning of parties, arresting politicians) have been subject to widespread public criticism, confronting the state becomes a salient issue. When these parties manage to frame this issue as one of democracy, they take ownership of it, and this then becomes an opportunity for democratizing the regime. This opportunity, yet, can be missed if the party follows an office-seeking strategy rather than a policy-seeking one.

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