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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Justice and Development Party Rule and the Turkish Foreign Policy Making: The Power of Vigilance and Social Activism

Foreign Policy
Political Sociology
Ayhan Kaya
Istanbul Bilgi University
Ayhan Kaya
Istanbul Bilgi University

Formed in 2001, the Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002, and it has aspired the majority of the Turkish public through its pro-European perspective. However, this perspective did not last very long due to both internal and external political, societal, economic and financial changes. Turkish Foreign Policy started to change in 2011 along with the removal of the American land forces from Iraq leaving a vacuum behind to be filled by Turkey. Since then, the Turkish Foreign Policy has been first tremendously shaped by Ahmet Davutoğlu’s neo-Ottoman and Islamist aspirations, and then by the Turkish President Erdoğan’s single-handed instructions. The President sees in his leadership the final victory of the true national and nativist will, which is believed to be maintained only with constant vigilance against enemies within and outside the state itself.
The vigilance in political Islam in Turkey is a rather new phenomenon. For instance, formed in 1983, the Welfare Party, led by Erbakan, won symbolic mayoral victories in Istanbul and Ankara in 1994, and even formed a coalition government in 1995. Nevertheless, Erbakan was aware of the specter of military repression and the constant military vigilance of Islamic activism, or fundamentalism. Even though his discourse espoused anti-secularism and anti-Western values, his government made no substantive changes to foreign policy and largely confined himself to symbolic gestures toward other Islamic states such as Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Libya.
Referring to the findings of a Horizon 2020 Project (CoHERE: Critical Heritages in Europe), which partly concentrated on the use of the past by right-wing populist parties and their supporters, this paper will concentrate on the correlation between vigilance of the Justice and Development Party and the Turkish Foreign Policy making over the last few years. It will look into the extent to which different forms of governmentality such as populism, nativism, nationalism, vigilantism, neo-Ottomanism and Islamism have shaped foreign policy making and how these forms have been influenced from non-state actors.
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