Does it take democrats to democratize? Lessons from Islamic and secular elite values in Turkey

  • Somer M
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Do political-Islamic elites need to be democrats for participation in de- mocracy, how do their values compare to secular elites’, and how do their values change through participation and affect democratization itself? A comparative-systematic content analysis of three Islamic-conservative and two pro-secular Turkish newspapers over nine years shows that, overall, political-Islamic elites adopt democratic political values. Furthermore, they began to view that liberal-democratic rights and freedoms serve their inter- ests. However, value democratization, and, thus, moderation and democra- tization, is not a linear and inexorable process automatically resulting from participation or socioeconomic development. It occurs through ruptures such as conflicts with secular actors, and interdependently through the in- teractions of secular and religious actors. Hence, religious actors’ adoption of more democracy may paradoxically make some secular actors less demo- cratic. The consolidation of pluralistic democracy requires the emergence of both religious and secular democrats by resolving complex problems of commitment, and of clashes in areas like social pluralism where Islamic val- ues are less open to change.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Turkey
  • democratization
  • moderation
  • political Islam
  • religious politics
  • secularism
  • values

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