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Why did Turkish democracy collapse? A political economy account of AKP’s authoritarianism

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After decades of multiparty politics, Turkey is no longer a democracy. A theory-upending case, the country has descended into a competitive authoritarian regime under the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi—AKP), despite rising income and education levels and strong links with the West. What accounts for democratic breakdown in such an unlikely case? Instead of ideological and institutional factors, we offer a political economy account. We contend that the coalitional ties that the AKP forged with businesses and the urban poor through the distribution of public resources has altered the cost of toleration for the party leadership and their dependent clients, while reducing the cost of suppression for incumbents. This new political calculus led to increasing authoritarianism of the AKP government through securitization of dissent, mounting repression, and systematic violation of civil liberties.




Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2020). Why did Turkish democracy collapse? A political economy account of AKP’s authoritarianism. Party Politics.

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