Turkish Politics II (POLS 353)

2023 Spring
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Political Science(POLS)
Berk Esen besen@sabanciuniv.edu,
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Formal lecture,Interactive lecture,Seminar,On-line task/distance
Interactive,Communicative,Discussion based learning
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This course aims to provide a systematic review of major political developments in contemporary Turkey. The main objective of the course is to analyze and discuss those political institutions, actors, and issues that have come to shape Turkish political life in the post- 1980 period. Focusing on substantive topics such as civil-military relations, rise of identity-politics, role of religion, elections, and political parties, we will study the country's transition to democratic rule after military rule and evaluate its performance over time. Special attention will be paid to regime change in recent years and its long-term political implications.


This course is designed to offer students a comprehensive view of contemporary Turkish politics by focusing on major developments and issues in the post-1983 period. As such, we will examine and discuss the primary themes, issues, trends and challenges faced by contemporary Turkish society and how these have been translated into the political arena in recent decades. Although my lectures will provide a short historical summary, these topics will be covered in a thematic and theoretical manner. Some of these topics include civil-military relations, Kurdish question, party system, migration, government-opposition relations, and political economy. We will also discuss the relevance of political ideologies/movements such as populism and political Islam and analyse how the Turkish political system has changed over the past decade. Regarding learning objectives, students are expected to become familiar with key political figures and parties; follow major political debates; and trace the transformation of the political system.


  • At the end of the course, students should be able to: 1- Comprehend how the Turkish state functions (or malfunctions); 2- Assess the impact of administrative heritage over structure and functioning of institutions; 3- Have a clear idea about challenges facing the state, as well as responses to tackle them; 4- Understand the role played by different stakeholders in service provision (governance); 5- Appreciate the necessity for constitutional and administrative reform as well as attempts to realize it; 6- Link internal and external (such as EU factor) dynamics of state restructuring; legal and constitutional reform.


1. Understand the world, their country, their society, as well as themselves and have awareness of ethical problems, social rights, values and responsibility to the self and to others. 4

2. Understand different disciplines from natural and social sciences to mathematics and art, and develop interdisciplinary approaches in thinking and practice. 3

3. Think critically, follow innovations and developments in science and technology, demonstrate personal and organizational entrepreneurship and engage in life-long learning in various subjects; have the ability to continue to educate him/herself. 3

4. Communicate effectively in Turkish and English by oral, written, graphical and technological means. 4

5. Take individual and team responsibility, function effectively and respectively as an individual and a member or a leader of a team; and have the skills to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams. 4

1. Develop knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in humanities and social sciences. 5

2. Assess how global, national and regional developments affect society. 5

3. Know how to access and evaluate data from various sources of information. 5

1. To analyze national and global events from various social science perspectives. 4

2. To demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge on political science and international relations and to state views and positions with advanced oral and written skills. 4

3. To compete for increasing career opportunities in national and global institutions. 4

4. To (be able to) understand and follow the changes in political behaviours, opinions and structures. 4

5. To gain the ability to make logical inferences on social and political issues based on comparative and historical knowledge. 4

1. Understand and follow changes in patterns of political behavior, ideas and structures. 4

2. Develop the ability to make logical inferences about social and political issues on the basis of comparative and historical knowledge. 4


  Percentage (%)
Final 30
Midterm 30
Participation 20
Individual Project 20



Week 1 Introduction: Historical Overview

Zürcher, Erik Jan. (2017). Turkey: A Modern History. Fourth revised edition. London: I.B. Tauris. Pp. 283?319
Arat, Y., & Pamuk, Ş. (2019). Turkey between democracy and authoritarianism. Cambridge University Press. Ch. 3

Week 2 Post-1980 Turkish Politics

Narli, N. (2011). Concordance and discordance in Turkish civil-military relations, 1980?2002. Turkish Studies, 12 (2), 215-225.
Eligür, B. (2010). The mobilization of political Islam in Turkey. Cambridge University Press. Ch. 3
Van Bruinessen, M. (1996). Turkey's death squads. Middle East Report, 20-23.
Zürcher, Erik Jan. (2017). Turkey: A Modern History. Fourth revised edition. London: I.B. Tauris. Pp. 319-337

Week 3 Post-2002 Turkish Politics

Eligür, B. (2010). The mobilization of political Islam in Turkey. Cambridge University Press. pp. 243-275
Gumuscu, S. (2010). Class, status, and party: The changing face of political Islam in Turkey and Egypt. Comparative Political Studies, 43(7), 835-861.
Gumuscu, S. (2016). The Clash of Islamists: The crisis of the Turkish state and democracy. Contemporary Turkish Politics.
Arat, Y., & Pamuk, Ş. (2019). Turkey between democracy and authoritarianism. Cambridge University Press. Ch. 4

Week 4 Civil-Military Relations

Sakallioğlu, Ü. C. (1997). The anatomy of the Turkish military's political autonomy. Comparative politics, 151-166.
Sarigil, Zeki. (2014). ?The Turkish Military: Principal or Agent.? Armed Forces & Society 40(1): 168-190.
Demir, Sertif, and Oktay Bingöl. (2018). "From Military Tutelage to Civilian Control: An Analysis of the Evolution of Turkish Civil?Military Relations." British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies:1-20.

Week 5 Kurdish Question

Ocakli, F. (2017). Politics in the Kurdish periphery: clan networks and local party strategies in a comparative perspective. Middle Eastern Studies, 53 (4), 571-584.
Sarigil, Z. (2018). Ethnic boundaries in Turkish politics: The secular Kurdish movement and Islam. NYU Press. ch. 3
Tezcür, G. M., & Gurses, M. (2017). Ethnic exclusion and mobilization: the Kurdish conflict in Turkey. Comparative Politics, 49 (2), 213-234.
Whiting, M., & Kaya, Z. N. (2021). Autocratization, permanent emergency rule and local politics: lessons from the Kurds in Turkey. Democratization, 1-19.

Week 6 Democratic Breakdown in Turkish Politics

Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2016). Rising competitive authoritarianism in Turkey. Third World Quarterly, 37(9), 1581-1606.
Tansel, Cemal Burak. (2018) ?Authoritarian Neoliberalism and Democratic Backsliding in Turkey: Beyond the Narratives of Progress.? South European Society and Politics 23, no. 2: 197?217.
Cengiz, F. Ç. (2020). Proliferation of neopatrimonial domination in Turkey. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 47(4), 507-525.
Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2020). Why did Turkish democracy collapse? A political economy account of AKP?s authoritarianism. Party Politics, 1354068820923722.

Week 7 Party Politics and Party System in Turkey (Midterm week)

Baykan, T. S. (2018). The justice and development party in Turkey: Populism, personalism, organization. Cambridge University Press. Ch. 6
Yardımcı-Geyikçi, Ş. (2018). Party system institutionalisation and democratic consolidation. Party Politics in Turkey: A Comparative Perspective. Ch. 12
Musil, P. A. (2018). Assessing the level of party cartelisation in contemporary Turkey. Party Politics in Turkey: A Comparative Perspective.
Kalaycioglu, Ersin. (2019). ?Elections, Parties, and the Party System? In Alpaslan Ozerdem and Matthew Whiting (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Turkish Politics, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 83-102.

Week 8 Political Economy of Turkey

Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2018). Building a competitive authoritarian regime: State?business relations in the AKP?s Turkey. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 20(4), 349-372.
Kimya, F. (2019). Political economy of corruption in Turkey: declining petty corruption, rise of cronyism?. Turkish Studies, 20(3), 351-376.
Adaman, F., Arsel, M., & Akbulut, B. (2019). Neoliberal developmentalism, authoritarian populism, and extractivism in the countryside: the Soma mining disaster in Turkey. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 46(3), 514-536.
Kutlay, M. (2020). The politics of state capitalism in a post-liberal international order: the case of Turkey. Third world quarterly, 41(4), 683-706.

Week 9 Populism in Turkish Politics

Aytaç, S. E., & Öniş, Z. (2014). Varieties of populism in a changing global context: The divergent paths of Erdoğan and Kirchnerismo. Comparative Politics, 47(1), 41-59.
Yabanci, B., & Taleski, D. (2018). Co-opting religion: how ruling populists in Turkey and Macedonia sacralise the majority. Religion, State & Society, 46(3), 283-304.
Zengin, H., & Ongur, H. O. (2020). How sovereign is a populist? The nexus between populism and political economy of the AKP. Turkish Studies, 21(4), 578-595.
Özdemir, Y. (2020). AKP?s neoliberal populism and contradictions of new social policies in Turkey. Contemporary Politics, 26(3), 245-267.

Week 10 Social Movements and Politics of Protest in Turkey

Atak, K., & Della Porta, D. (2016). Popular uprisings in Turkey: Police culpability and constraints on dialogue-oriented policing in Gezi Park and beyond. European Journal of Criminology, 13(5), 610-625.
Atak, K., & Bayram, I. E. (2017). Protest policing alla turca: Threat, insurgency, and the repression of pro-kurdish protests in Turkey. Social forces, 95(4), 1667-1694.
Arslanalp, M., & Deniz Erkmen, T. (2020). Mobile emergency rule in Turkey: legal repression of protests during authoritarian transformation. Democratization, 27(6), 947-969.

Week 11 Politics of Migration

Içduygu, A. (2000). The politics of international migratory regimes: Transit migration flows in Turkey. International Social Science Journal, 52(165), 357-367.
Kirişci, K. (2007). Turkey: A country of transition from emigration to immigration. Mediterranean politics, 12(1), 91-97.
Özerim, M. G. (2018). Stretching, Opening or Sealing the Borders: Turkish Foreign Policy Conceptions and their Impact on Migration, Asylum and Visa Policies. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 20(2), 165-182
Adamson, F. B. (2019). Sending states and the making of intra-diasporic politics: Turkey and its diaspora (s). International Migration Review, 53(1), 210-236.

Week 12 Nationalism on the Rise

Kıbrıs, Arzu. (2011). ?Funerals and Elections: The Effects of Terrorism on Voting Behavior in Turkey.? Journal of Conflict Resolution 55(2): 220-247.
Tezcür, G. M. (2015). Violence and nationalist mobilization: the onset of the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. Nationalities Papers, 43(2), 248-266.
Cengiz, F. Ç. (2020). Resistance to change: the ideological immoderation of the Nationalist Action Party in Turkey. Turkish Studies, 1-19.
Ayturk I and Esen, B. (2021) The Far Right, Labor Unions and the Working Class in Turkey since the 1960s. Middle East Journal. Forthcoming

Week 13 Opposition Politics

Somer, M. (2007). Moderate Islam and secularist opposition in Turkey: Implications for the world, Muslims and secular democracy. Third World Quarterly, 28(7), 1271-1289.
Selçuk, O., & Hekimci, D. (2020). The rise of the democracy?authoritarianism cleavage and opposition coordination in Turkey (2014?2019). Democratization, 27(8), 1496-1514.
Bozkurt-Güngen, S. (2018). Labour and authoritarian neoliberalism: Changes and continuities under the AKP governments in Turkey. South European society and politics, 23(2), 219-238.
Wuthrich, F. M., & Ingleby, M. (2020). The Pushback Against Populism: Running on" Radical Love" in Turkey. Journal of Democracy, 31(2), 24-40.

Week 14 Conclusion - New Dynamics in Turkish Politics

Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2018). The Perils of ?Turkish Presidentialism?. Review of Middle East Studies, 52(1), 43-53
Yardımcı-Geyikçi, Ş., & Yavuzyilmaz, H. (2020). Party (de) institutionalization in times of political uncertainty: The case of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey. Party Politics, 1354068820960010.
McCoy, J., & Somer, M. (2021). Overcoming Polarization. Journal of Democracy, 32(1), 6-21.