Justice and development party at the Helm: resurgence of islam or restitution of right of center predominant party?
Kalaycıoğlu, Ersin (2008) Justice and development party at the Helm: resurgence of islam or restitution of right of center predominant party? In: Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association at the Palmer House, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A
General elections of July 22, 2007 witnessed a very rare occasion in Turkish politics. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which had been in government since the 2002 elections managed to increase its votes dramatically and obtain an overwhelming majority in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA). It was a first since the 1954 elections in the country. The leader and the front bench of the AKP have come from the political Islamist National Outlook (Milli Gorus) movement. With immaculate Islamist credentials the electoral victories of the AKP in the 2000s have been interpreted as the demise of secularism and resurgence of Islam in Turkey. Has 47 percent of the Turkish electorate voted for political Islam in the July 22, 2007 elections? Is it religious credentials of the AKP or its leader and the front bench that have attracted the voters in droves to the support of that party at the polls, or are there some other factors at play? This paper sets out to examine and compare the voter profiles in the 2002 and 2007 elections, with the objective of determining the profiles of the voters who supported the AKP versus its main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the champion of secularism in Turkish politics. The paper sets out to ascertain whether the voter profiles of the Turkish parties have changed between 2002 and 2007, and how? The nationally representative election surveys of 2002 and 2007 will be used to analyze such individual level characteristics of attitudes, beliefs and values of the Turkish voters, and assess the role played by religiosity, economic expectations and the performance of the economy, foreign policy, and in specific EU – Turkey relations, parochialism, and nationalist feelings in determining the preferences of the voters across the left – right spectrum in Turkey. Such an analysis will enable us to unearth the importance of religiosity in the voters’ choices, and the extent to which Turkish voters have shunned away from secularism per se.
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