Turkey Book Talk episode #115  –  Michael Wuthrich, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas, on “The Pushback Against Populism: Running on ‘Radical Love’ in Turkey”, co-authored with Melvyn Ingleby and published in the April 2020 edition of the Journal of Democracy.

The article examines the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) successful local election campaigns in major Turkish cities in 2019, when it applied sophisticated methods crafted by strategist Ateş İlyas Başsoy to counter the government’s populism.

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Here’s a link to the article.

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Turkey Book Talk episode #66 – Cengiz Erişen of Istanbul’s Yeditepe University on “Political Behavior and the Emotional Citizen: Participation and Reaction in Turkey” (Palgrave Macmillan), focusing on the months between the June 2015 and November 2015 elections.

Our conversation also takes in the current campaign for the snap presidential and parliamentary elections, the surprisingly energetic performance of main opposition candidate Muharrem İnce, and the critical importance of the Kurdish issue.

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Here’s my review of the book from a couple of weeks ago.

Support Turkey Book Talk by becoming a member. Membership gives you full transcripts in English and Turkish of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire Turkey Book Talk archive (over 60 conversations so far), and access to an exclusive 30% discount on over 200 Turkey/Ottoman History titles published by IB Tauris.

I’ve written an article for World Politics Review ahead of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary snap elections on June 23.

In it I try to take a longer view, suggesting that while President Erdoğan’s political grip continues to tighten, long-term social tides in the country are not necessarily moving in the religiously conservative direction many assume.

“Erdoğan towers over all areas of life in the country. State institutions have gradually been subordinated to his will since he first came to office in 2003 … He is almost constantly on television, often delivering three pugnacious speeches in one day, broadcast live on every news channel. Under the state of emergency he has been able to govern through decrees granted the full force of the law. His supporters refer to him as ‘reis,’ or chief.

“The government’s attempts to mold Turkish society have in recent years shaped education, family and cultural policy. Money has poured into the Directorate of Religious Affairs, which now has an annual budget of over 4 billion liras, dwarfing most other ministries. Erdogan has famously declared his aim to ‘raise pious generations.’ In right-wing populist fashion, he frames this as a return to a more authentic and harmonious Turkish order, denouncing liberal and secular currents as alien and unwelcome impositions.

“But despite the AK Party being at the apogee of its power, longer-term trends suggest that things may not be so simple. While the government’s religious-nationalist program, combining modern Islamic conservatism with a populist streak heavy on Ottoman nostalgia, appears firmly in place today, there are growing signs that social tides in Turkey are not necessarily moving in the conservative direction that many assume. The vaunted social revolution ushered in by the current government is not as deep as many observers inside and outside the country commonly assume.”

Click here to read the whole thing. If the link doesn’t bring up the whole article it means you’ll need need to sign up to WPR to read it. But if you write your email address in the box at the bottom right corner of the page you should be given access to read.

New Turkey Book Talk episode with Michael Wuthrich, chatting about “National Elections in Turkey: People, Politics and the Party System” (Syracuse University Press).

This really is an excellent book that overhauls much conventional wisdom about Turkish politics shared by right and left.

Unlike the deceptively boring title of the book, this episode’s title is stupidly ambitious. But we do cover a lot of ground. I’m really pleased with it – hope you enjoy/learn from it.

Download the episode or listen below.

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Here’s my review of the book in HDN.


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Many thanks to current supporters Özlem Beyarslan, Steve Bryant, Andrew Cruickshank and Aaron Ataman.

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