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Research and Commentary
The Turkish Example: A Model for Change In the Middle East?
The Turkish Example: A Model for Change In the Middle East?
Turkey plays a crucial role in the contemporary Islamic world through the demonstration effect of its deepening democracy, booming economy and increasingly independent foreign policy.
Wednesday, January 4,2012 08:40
by Seymen Atasoy Egyptindependent

Dr. Atasoy is a faculty member at the Eastern Mediterranean University, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

 Turkey plays a crucial role in the contemporary Islamic world through the demonstration effect of its deepening democracy, booming economy and increasingly independent foreign policy. Reluctance to export any political model or to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries increases its appeal for reformists in many Muslim-majority nations. Some observers, impressed by the coexistence of democracy and Islam in Turkey, propose it as a model for democratization in the Middle East.1 Despite its unique political evolution, Turkey has gradually become a general inspiration for political and economic liberalization in other Middle Eastern societies. But a review of democratization in Turkey also illustrates the significant problems the country has yet to solve for the consolidation of genuine liberal democracy. Rather than a completed model for other countries to emulate, Turkey is an illustrative case of ongoing democratization from which other Muslim-majority nations can draw lessons. This paper focuses on democratic deepening and associated hurdles in Turkey during the past decade and searches for insights that may be useful to contemporary democratization efforts elsewhere in the Middle East.


Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments since 2002 have brought about a major reorientation of politics in Turkey and accelarated democratic deepening. Established by former Islamists, the AKP defines itself as "conservative democrat," accepts secularism in governance, and acts like a counterpart of European Christian Democratic parties. It pursues European integration along with the protection of traditional cultural values.

tags: Turkey / Islamists / Democracy / Islam / Middle East / Liberal / Islamic World / Internal Affairs / Justice and Development Party / AKP / Democratic Parties / Muslim Nations / Liberalization / Secularism
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