Globalisation and party transformation: Turkey’s Justice and Development Party in perspective
There is no doubt that Turkey’s political system has undergone transformation in recent years partly as a result of the increasingly strong signals provided by the European Union (EU) and a more credible set of incentives relating to eventual full membership of the EU. However, it is not simply external actors alone but a complex interplay of domestic and external influences that have shaped this process of transformation, which in many ways remains an ongoing and incomplete process. This chapter has two interrelated objectives. The first goal is to highlight the paradoxical role of the Justice and Development Party (the AKP), a party with Islamist roots, in Turkey’s recent transformation and Europeanisation. The second is to use recent Turkish experience to illuminate a broader question concerning the possibilities of transforming an Islamist political movement into a party that embraces the norms of liberal democracy. A central claim in this context is that although such a transformation is clearly possible and the norms of liberal democracy can be firmly entrenched in a predominantly Muslim society, this outcome in Turkey is context-specific, and is conditional upon the co-existence and the interplay over time of several favourable internal and external processes.