Beyond the ''people'': formation of ''ulusalcılık'' in the AKP's populist discourse
Kayserilioğlu, Erdem (2015) Beyond the ''people'': formation of ''ulusalcılık'' in the AKP's populist discourse. [Thesis]
Over more than a decade, discussions on “ulusalcılık” became a major topic of debate in Turkish politics. A range of political actors, among them those who position themselves as liberals, nationalists (ülkücüler) as well as different incarnations of the political left, tried to capture the current stance of “ulusalcılık” in different ways with reference to different political, social and cultural events of the past decade. Despite its often noted ill-definedness, the term “ulusalcılık” has nonetheless found a place in the political space. The AKP government and its media supporters appropriate the term „ulusalcılık‟ as a neo-Kemalist nationalist movement that reflects tutelary status quo reactions and cultural elitism of the laicist middle class groups. While those civil organizations that call themselves “ulusalcı” are quite few in actual numbers and vary ideologically, the populist discourse of the AKP gradually cast the „ulusalcılık‟ phenomenon as antithetical of that of „the people‟ („millet‟); as the suppressive elite that attempts to exert tutelary power over the „real people of Turkey‟. This study conceives attempts of different political discourses to fix the meaning of “ulusalcılık” as a hegemonic struggle. In accordance, the thesis illustrates the articulation of “ulusalcılık” in the AKP‟s populist discourse as an empty signifier constituting and combining certain elements provided for the enemy figure. Focusing on particular political moments, namely the Republican Rallies in 2007, the constitutional referendum in 2010 and the Gezi Park protests in 2013, the thesis traces the formation and transformation of “ulusalcılık” in the AKP‟s populist discourse in accordance with the AKP‟s changing discursive field.
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