(New York, N.Y.) — The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) released a new report this week, Extremism in Erdoğan’s AKP, ahead of the Turkish general elections on Sunday. The report examines the rise and authoritarian turn of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), explaining how the AKP succeeded in coming in and holding on to power where other Turkish Islamist groups failed.
The report explores the history of Islamism in Turkey, detailing the rise and fall of Islamist parties that preceded the AKP before analyzing the factors that contributed to the AKP’s founding and success. The AKP, founded in 2001 by current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following a split in Turkey’s Islamist movement, has capitalized on the complex divisions in modern Turkish society.
Erdoğan has been a constant presence in Turkish government for the past two decades. He represented the AKP from 2003-2014 as prime minister of Turkey, stepped down from the party in 2014 during his run for president, and returned as the face of the AKP in 2017.
As a result, the AKP has shifted from its self-described ideology of conservative democracy to one commonly known as “Erdoğanism.” Erdoğanism has drastically increased state power, created a cult around Erdoğan, portrayed traditional Muslim “Black Turks” as the genuine owners of Turkey over secular “White Turks,” and aimed to return Turkey to its Ottoman-era leadership of the Muslim world. The report finds that the Erdoğan government has oppressed vulnerable communities, including women and LGBT Turks.
Erdoğan seeks another presidential term in this Sunday’s elections. He is running against Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) as well as less popular candidates Muharrem Ince and Sinan Ogan. If Erdoğan succeeds, he will serve until 2028, when he will be term-limited. Erdoğan has also threatened not to hand over power if he loses.
To read CEP’s report Extremism in Erdoğan’s AKP, please click here.
To speak with a CEP expert on the upcoming Turkish elections, please contact [email protected].