Book Launch with Dimitar Bechev: Turkey Under Erdogan

PSA Turkish Politics Specialist Group is inviting you to its virtual book launch event in which Dr Dimitar Bechev will present his new book“Turkey Under Erdogan How a Country Turned from Democracy and the West” published by Yale University Press.

The event will take place on Zoom on Thursday, 12 January 2023, 15:00 – 16:00 GMT.

The book will be discussed by Lauren McLaren, Professor of Politics at the University of Leicester and Dr Marc Sinan Winrow (LSE).

The presentations will be followed by feedback from discussants and a Q&A session.

Registration for the event can be made on Eventbrite.

About the speaker

Dr Dimitar Bechev is a lecturer at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA), University of Oxford.

He specialises in the international politics of Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

Bechev is the author of Turkey under Erdogan (Yale University Press, 2022), Historical Dictionary of North Macedonia (Rowman, 2019), and Rival Power: Russia in Southeast Europe (Yale UP, 2017) as well as co-editor of Russia Rising: Putin’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomsbury, 2021).

To access more information about Turkey Under Erdogan How a Country Turned from Democracy and the West” click here.

Our PSA 2022 Programme is Out

As PSA’s specialist group for Turkish Politics, we are hosting four panels on Turkish Politics at the 2022 PSA Annual Conference. Please find below the programme of our panels that focus on multiple and timely issues on Turkish politics. The conference is taking place both at the University of York and digitally. There is still time to register and join the discussion even if you are not presenting a paper.

PANEL 1 – State Formation, Identity and Emotions in Turkish Politics

The map of Sèvres Agreement
Source: Foreign Policy

12 APRIL 2022, TUESDAY, 9:30-11:00

Summary of Panel: A specific state identity, drawing on a specific vision of Turkish nationalism, was institutionalised at the foundation of the Turkish state. This process set a path that embedded certain emotions into Turkish politics and ensured that the Turkish state represented itself, and understood itself, in a particular way. This panel examines how the process of state formation led to particular visions of the Turkish state, often relying on a sense of Otherness, and how deeply embedded emotions around Turkish political identity play out in politics today.

Chair: Matthew Whiting

PAPER 1 – State Formation and Civil War on the European Periphery 1917-1923: an essay on Turkish exceptionalism
Bill Kissane
PAPER 2 – Continuity in Change: Anxiety in Turkish Politics Through Sèvres and Lausanne Syndromes
Erman Ermihan and İrem Karamık
PAPER 3 – “Victorious Victims”: The Analysis of the Nationalist Poems Which Are Written by the Ordinary People
Tuğçe Erçetin
PAPER 4 – Ontological Security, Emotions, and the Turkish-Israeli Rapprochement
Özlem Kayhan Pusane and Aslı Ilgıt
PAPER 5 – Political Agency in Agonistic Contexts: Turkey and Politics of Disaster
Senem Yıldırım Özdem

PANEL 2 – The “Local” and the State in Turkey

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12 APRIL 2022, TUESDAY, 13:30-15:00

Summary of Panel: The importance of the “local” is often overlooked given the prominence of the central state to Turkish politics. This panel reasserts the importance of the local level by examining how local dynamics, local identities and local politics have been an important aspect of Turkish politics, both at the foundation of the state and today.

Chair: Matthew Whiting

PAPER 1 – ‘Hybridity by Design’: Between Liberal Norms and Illiberal Peace in Turkey
Esra Dilek
PAPER 2 – Can intervoter contact reduce support for electoral violence? A survey experiment from Turkey
Buğra Güngör
PAPER 3 – State-building and Borderlands: Control of the Turkish State on an Everyday Level
Dilan Okçuoğlu

PANEL 3 – The State and Women’s Rights in Turkey

Photo by Beyza Kaplan

12 APRIL 2022, TUESDAY, 15:30-17:00

Summary of Panel: The AKP has an ambivalent relationship with women’s rights and women’s political participation. After initially supporting women’s rights as part of the EU accession process, more recently the position of women has become increasingly precarious under the AKP. This was further compounded when Turkey withdrew from the ‘Istanbul Convention’ on combatting violence against women and domestic violence. Support from women has been an important component of the AKP’s populist strategy, while the AKP has generally promoted a traditional and conservative view of women’s position within society and encouraged a patriarchal vision of the family. This panel explores the AKP’s policies towards women throughout its time in power, its approach t women’s rights, and its framing of a traditional understanding of family through the state’s institutions.

Chair: Yaprak Gürsoy

PAPER 1 – “Strengthening the Family” through Education in Turkey
Ayça Günaydın Kaymakçıoğlu
PAPER 2 – From Liberalism to Conservatism: Turkey’s Women Policies after 2011
Çağlar Ezikoğlu
PAPER 3 – The Puzzle of International Norm Transfer: Exploration of Women’s Rights in Turkey
Sebahat Derin Atışkan
PAPER 4 – “Uncooperation” for Women’s Rights: Turkey’s Withdrawal from Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention
Tuğba Bayar
PAPER 5 – How AKP Meets with Women: Politics of Party’s Women’s Branch
Nur Sinem Kourou

PANEL 4 – Democracy, Autocratization and Party Politics in Turkey


13 APRIL 2022, WEDNESDAY, 9:30-11:00

Summary of Panel: Turkey is a vital case for understanding the recent trend of autocratization and populism observable in some hybrid regimes. Over its 20 years in power, the AKP has become increasingly centred around its leader, Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan. Yet the longer the AKP and Erdoğan remain in power, the more it raises under-examined questions around how the party maintains its support and how manages challenges from opposition groups that threaten its dominance. This panel examines the populist strategies of the AKP, ongoing autocratization in Turkey, and government-opposition dynamics in this political landscape.

Chair: Yaprak Gürsoy

PAPER 1 – Politicization of Corruption in Turkey: Populists and their Rivals
Seda Demiralp
PAPER 2 – The news media as a conduit and target of “disinformation” in Turkey
Natalie Martin
PAPER 3 – What is in a Bridge? Developmentalist Economic Imaginaries and Partisanship Under Competitive Authoritarianism
Aykut Öztürk
PAPER 4 – Oppositional Unity in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes: A Comparison of Turkey and Hungary
Pelin Ayan Musil

Our Member Muzaffer Kutlay and Her Project Team Nominated For Prestigious Higher Education Award

Our member Muzaffer Kutlay and her Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) COMPASS project team have been shortlisted for the International Collaboration of the Year at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021, widely known as ‘the Oscars of Higher Education’

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) COMPASS project, hosted by the University of Kent in partnership with the University of Cambridge (UK), ADA University (Azerbaijan), Belarusian State University (Belarus), TNU (Tajikistan) and the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (Uzbekistan), has been shortlisted for the International Collaboration of the Year at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021.

The GCRF COMPASS project works with higher education institutions (HEIs) from former Soviet Republics to develop global partnerships and more sustainable learning capacities through resilience in the face of adversity and crisis. Led by Professor Elena Korosteleva, in partnership with Dr Siddharth Saxena (COI, Cambridge), Rosalind Beeching (Project Manager, Kent) and Prajakti Kalra (Research & Communication Officer, Cambridge), the GCRF COMPASS consortium involves six Research Institutions, 24 members of staff and 100 affiliates. For its success it owes especially to the younger generation of scholars including the PSA Turkish Politics Specialist Group member Dr Muzaffer Kutlay, as well as Dr Irina Petrova, Dr Diana Kudaibergenova and Dr Anastasiya Kudlenko for their incredible enthusiasm, dedication and scholarship.

The project has been recognised by the judge’s panel of THE Awards 2021 for its creative collaborations, imaginative communication of research results, and tremendous achievements in difficult circumstances of war, conflict, uprisings, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supported by its International Advisory Board of policymakers, practitioners and academics across the globe, GCRF COMPASS fosters excellence through successful research integration, policy impact and community engagement. Despite the complex challenges both in the UK and the region, the project team, represented in the region by national team leads – Nargiz Ismayilova; Artsiom Nazaranka; Munira Shahidi and Ulugbeck Hasanov – has built close relationships, resulting in new research projects, international training schools for Early Career Scholars, Future Leaders Policy Forums, academic workshops and seminars and signature conferences. The result has been educational partnerships and the project outputs have informed peace and reconciliation between former adversaries and investing in a more sustainable future for the region and beyond.

The project team helped its partners, both in the UK and the region, to nurture signature specialisms to become global hubs in resilience (Kent and Cambridge), migration (Belarus), connectivity (Azerbaijan), regional security (Uzbekistan) and cultural diplomacy (Tajikistan). The project has produced 9 monographs and edited volumes; 6 Special Issues; over 100 journal articles and policy briefs.

The THE Awards 2021 ceremony takes place on 25 November 2021.

Turkish Politics Specialist Group Virtual Book Launch Event with Dr Ayşe Güneş and Dr Çağlar Ezikoğlu

PSA Turkish Politics Specialist Group is inviting you to its first virtual book launch event in which Dr Ayse Güneş and Dr Çağlar Ezikoğlu will present their timely books on Turkish Politics.

The event is on 30 June 2021, 14:00 – 15:45 BST, and will take place on Zoom. 

Dr Ayşe Güneş (Bartın University) will present her book “International Human Rights Law and Crimes Against Women in Turkey”.

Her book will be discussed by Dr Elvira Dominguez-Redondo (Middlesex University).

Dr Çağlar Ezikoğlu (Çankırı Karatekin University) will present his new book “the Logic of Political Survival in Turkey: the Case of AKP”.

His book will be discussed by  Dr Natalie Martin (University of Nottingham).

The presentations will be followed by feedback from discussants and a Q&A session.

Registration for the event can be made on Eventbrite.

Our Member Begüm Burak Launches A Youtube Channel on Ottoman-Turkish History

Our member Begüm Burak has launched a Youtube channel on Ottoman-Turkish History through which she presents literature review and academic comments on Ottoman-Turkish History. She has commented to us that with this channel she aims to reach to young scholars studying Turkish politics in particular.

About Begüm Burak

Begüm Burak is an Istanbul-based independent researcher. In 2015, Ms. Burak got her PhD degree. The main areas of her academic interest include Turkish Politics, Civil-Military Relations in Turkey, Secularism Discussions in Turkey, Discourse Analysis Methodology, Media-Politics Relations and Political Culture.

Between 2010 and 2015, during her occupation as a research assistant, she got engaged in short-term academic activities in Italy, United Kingdom, Bosnia and Spain. In 2018, she became one of the founding members of She currently writes in her own blog in English and for some web sites besides writing columns regularly for two Turkish websites.

In this latest video Burak discusses the National Independence War and the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

You can follow Begüm on Twitter and see some of her academic work on Academia.

Call for Papers for Panels on All Aspects of Turkish Politics

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The PSA’s Annual International Conference 2021 will be held in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, (School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Politics) and Visit Belfast.

The 2021 PSA Annual International Conference is planned as a hybrid conference which blends the digital world and physical world together to produce the opportunities and interactions of a physical conference, with the added accessibility of an online conference.

Once again this year the Turkish Politics Specialist Group will be organising four panels for the conference. If you would like to be considered for inclusion on one of these panels, please send a 200-word abstract to Matthew Whiting ( and Yaprak Gürsoy (

Deadline for paper proposals: Tuesday, 28 September 2020

Full details of the conference can be found on the PSA website here

Yaprak Gürsoy on Turkey’s Covid19 Response

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Yaprak Gürsoy has written a timely article to the PSA Blog on Turkey’s Covid19 response.

In her article she investigates Turkey’s record in fighting against COVID-19 and traces the political developments since the beginning of the outbreak.

We are republishing her article in our blog.

1_CEgybfUijfp-f_nt2YiTYQ.jpgYaprak Gürsoy



It is undeniable that we are undergoing unprecedented global change with the COVID-19 pandemic and these will have unpredictable political consequences for years to come. What will the winds of change bring to Turkey and to its personalistic regime?

There are two ways to answer this question. One way is to look at Turkey’s record in fighting against COVID-19 and the other is tracing political developments since the beginning of the outbreak. In both counts, Turkey appears to be quite stable. But looks can be deceiving. High tides under water have been kept at bay so far, however, 18 years of rule by the AKP has cultivated its simmering opposition that will only grow in time.

Measures against COVID-19

Turkey has had a total of just over 186,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 22nd June, making it the 11th most affected country in the world. Despite the high number of confirmed cases, its death rate remains significantly lower than other European countries, including countries like France and Belgium that appear to have fewer cases. Comparing the absolute number of confirmed cases across different countries is fraught with difficulties and all caveats around these figures need be kept in mind. Still# the relative success of Turkey begs clarification.

There is no simple explanation for lower death rates. There are still many unknowns about the nature of the virus that might explain Turkey’s statistics from a medical perspective. Certainly, Turkey’s demographics are in its favour – only eight percent of its population is over the age of 65 and most do not stay in care homes. Compare this to the EU average of 20% elderly population, or even higher in badly affected Italy, or consider the fact that in April alone official COVID-19 deaths in care homes in the UK were nearly twice as much as overall deaths in Turkey.

What of more short-term factors that were within the control of political leaders, notably when and to what extent to go into lockdown? Turkey’s approach to lockdown lies somewhere in the middle of a ‘restrictive-liberal’ continuum. It shut down schools and imposed a full curfew on the elderly and on children. It has also introduced a full lockdown on weekends and holidays. But if you were a Turkish citizen between the age of 20 and 65 or if you were working, it has been more or less business as usual, at least during the weekdays. Given this mixed approach that prioritised the economy, it is probably unlikely that curfew measures were what made the difference in death rates in Turkey.

Rather than lockdown, it would seem that Turkey’s success might be more to do with its healthcare system that was relatively well-placed to deal with the crisis. The number of Intensive Care Unit beds in Turkey is four times more than Italy and nearly eight times more than the UK. This is, in part, down to the policies of the government in the past years. Some of these earlier policies, such as building city hospitals, have been controversial because they rest on neoliberal principles and reflect the extent of crony capitalism in Turkey. But in the combat against coronavirus, they have provided the capacity to admit suspected patients immediately, even before test results, and start aggressive treatment, even with the controversial drug of hydroxychloroquine. Also contact-tracing was introduced very quickly that tests patients within a day and notifies and monitors those with whom suspected cases have been in touch.

No matter where the real reason for Turkey’s low death rates lies, the government has been able to capitalise on the pandemic, increase its prestige abroad through supplying medical aid and tout the comparatively low death rates as a success. Although this trend can be reversed with the easing of lockdown measures and a new spike in cases, Ankara has managed to hold firm against the winds of change thanks to its seeming success in containing the virus so far.

Recent Political Developments

One of the major political consequences of the outbreak globally has been the way personal liberties had to be curtailed. The pandemic has led to illiberal policies everywhere with more than 80 countries declaring a state of emergency. Leaders are taking the opportunity to grab more power even in well-established democracies and it is unclear whether and when liberties will be returned to people.

Turkey has not been an exception to this global drift. Some of the political decisions that were made during the pandemic reflect earlier trends, mixed with new opportunities. For instance, around 90,000 convicts were granted an amnesty to prevent the spread of the virus in jails but political prisoners were exempted from the pardon.  Opposition local governments in Istanbul and Ankara were forbidden from accepting donations from citizens to raise funds and distribute supplies to those who were in need. Five elected heads of local districts from the main Kurdish political party (HDP) were removed from office and the impunity of lawmakers were lifted paving the way for the prosecution of HDP MPs.

Centralising power by the ruling AKP and efforts to side-line political opposition are not new in Turkey. Although they might have been accelerated with the outbreak, they have also produced renewed opposition and initiatives, bringing in the potential of change amid seeming stability. For instance, there has been a cabinet crisis over the way curfew was initially introduced, which points at possible future fissures within the AKP government.  There also seems to be an increase in the popularity of recently founded AKP-splinter partiesA recent poll also revealed that public trust toward Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş surpassed that of President Erdoğan.  Finally, the HDP started a new campaign and has held rallies, despite government-imposed restrictions and COVID-19 related constraints.

Turkey has had a mixed record during the pandemic. If the death rates continue as they are, it is a positive case that needs to be acknowledged. However, this accomplishment should not distract from the general political trends of the recent years. For now, the pandemic seems to have brought more political stability than prospects for change. It is difficult to predict what will happen in a couple of years but, as in the anti-racism protests elsewhere, in Turkey too, the pandemic has brought its own dynamics of unforeseen transformation.



Publication Opportunity: Contemporary Turkey Series with I.B. Tauris

IMG_8908Photo: Begüm Zorlu

The BIAA (British Institute at Ankara) in conjunction with I.B.Tauris has posted a publishing opportunity on modern Turkey. The Contemporary Turkey series is focusing on the history, eco­nomics, and politics of modern Turkey and is seeking to provide “new data and insights from the field.”

As the call states, the series will:

  • Reassess the impact of historical legacies on the development of modern Turkey.
  • Reconsider modern Turkish history in an international context.
  • Promote innovative approaches to the study of modern Turkish politics and political economy.
  • Provide an outlet for new work from emerging scholars and support the fellowship programme of the BIAA (
  • Encourage a forward-thinking and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of modern Turkey.


Ceren Lord, Katerina Dalacoura, Pinar Bedirhanoglu, Sevgi Adak are the editors of the series. For more information, or to submit a proposal for consideration, Ceren Lord can be contacted via

Members’ Publications : Yaprak Gürsoy on the Peculiarities of AKP’s Populism in Turkey

Yaprak Gürsoy (2019) Moving Beyond European and Latin American Typologies: The Peculiarities of AKP’s Populism in Turkey, Journal of Contemporary Asia

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In her article published in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, Gürsoy provides a contribution to understanding and categorising the populism of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey by debating the typologies in the literature and calling for a comprehensive socio-cultural approach to explore populism.

The author examines the dominant typologies and regional variations in populism studies along with a literature review that explores AKP’s populism. The article highlights that there has been a “selective focus” that has shaped categorisation about the AKP and lists some of the key features that are used to explain AKP’s populism. She demonstrates how the case of the AKP constitutes a “specific ideological and strategic blend” (p.18), which is more similar to the cases of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in India and the TRT (Thai Rak Thai) in Thailand than the Latin American and European examples of populism. She shows how the AKP’s populist discourse utilises “civilisational terms” and combines various strategies like “neo-liberalism, strong party organisation and grassroots mobilisation”.

The article is open access and available here.


Virtual Roundtable: Managing the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Turkish Politics Specialist Group is participating in an online roundtable entitled “Managing the Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned and Avenues for Political Science Research”. The roundtable will take place on Friday the 29th of May at 15:00 – 16:30 GMT. 

This timely meeting will focus on the management of the crisis in  France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Nordic countries and Turkey. Experts of each country will discuss what political scientists can learn from the coronavirus crisis and what are some immediate avenues for research. PhD students, academics and everyone interested in the comparative study of the Covid-19 Pandemic is invited to attend.

The event will take place on Zoom and the link is: