During the first decade of the AKP’s rise to power, academic discussions of Turkish politics were dominated by what İlker Aytürk has called “the Post-Kemalist Paradigm.” For many scholars, the pathologies of Turkey’s founding ideology served to explain its subsequent failure to liberalize over the course of the next century. As a result, they hoped that dismantling military tutelage and the intellectual infrastructure of Kemalism would finally enable Turkey’s complete democratization. Yet Erdogan’s consolidation of power has forced a reconsideration of this assumption and prompted an ongoing debate about how those supporting liberal democracy today should approach Turkey’s Kemalist heritage. This discussion examines how disillusionment with the AKP is reshaping academic approaches to Turkey and what that might mean for the future of Turkish politics.


İlker Aytürk is associate professor at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Bilkent University, Ankara and teaches Turkish political history. His current research focuses on the evolution of the Turkish far right during the Cold War.Berk Esen is an IPC-Stiftung Mercator Fellow in the Center for Applied Turkey Studies (CATS) at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Sabancı University.

Cangül Örnek is an associate professor of political science at Maltepe University, İstanbul. She has books and articles on the intellectual history of Turkey and Cold War Turkish history.Alp Yenen is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies. Dr. Yenen works primarily on the political history of modern Turkey and the Middle East. He is specialized on the turn of the 20th century, First World War, Interwar period, and the Cold War period.

Nicholas Danforth
Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow, Turkey Programme, ELIAMEP

Watch the discussion here.

Watch the 30-minute version with Greek subtitles here.