“Türkiye for the New Century”, Türkiye’s politics and parties

Geopolitics Multipolarity Muslims Today Political science Politics Religion in the Public Sphere

by Ali M. Shukr

Recently published by the Institute for Future Studies in Beirut, the book “Turkey in the New Century: The Political System, Parties, and Pressure Groups,” was presented by Professor Emrullah Ashler, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey.

The book was divided into an introduction and 5 chapters. In each chapter, a group of Turkish and Arab writers and researchers participated in the fields included in the book’s themes, which include the Turkish political system, the parties in power, the parties in the opposition, the Third Way parties, and religious, familial, and economic political pressure groups.

The proposals presented by the book were characterized by objectivity, as we find that each study was prepared in a documented scientific manner.

In his introduction to the book, Ishler points out the roots of Turkish-Arab relations, the role of Orientalists in creating an Arab-Turkish division, and the effect of Turkey’s orientation towards the West in increasing the division. It presents the period of the Justice and Development Party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the year 2000.

Ishler believes that Turkey is “going through rapid transformations at all levels, which raises the following questions: What will Turkey look like in its second centenary? Where will its position in the world be during it? Will it succeed in achieving its goals that it has occupied for the past 100 years?” He believes that the 2023 elections are crucial and express the choices of the Turkish people and their vision for the future of their country.

The first chapter, entitled “The Political System,” includes two axes. The first is “The struggle to reshape the presidential system in the face of the strengthened parliamentarian thesis,” and was prepared by Jalal Salami on the presidential system adopted in 2017 and implemented in 2018. In this chapter, the author details the constitutional articles and the opposition parties’ position on The presidential system, and its crystallization within the “six-party table” that included the Republican People’s Party, the Good Party, the Future Party, Happiness Party, Democracy Party, Progress Party, and Democratic Party.

As for the second axis, entitled “The Electoral System in Turkey: Competition and its Rules,” Anasoglu begins by approaching the role of the Turkish Supreme Election Authority, which was established in 1950, which undertakes the electoral process from its beginning to its end, and the absolute role of this body.

The second chapter included 3 topics. The first is about the Justice and Development Party, entitled “The Justice and Development Party: Reshaping Turkey,” by Iyad Jabr, which explains the circumstances of the emergence of this party, the stage of referendums and elections of 2010-2011, and the period after 2013 (protecting achievements). Then there are the current challenges internally and externally, and how the party’s votes are distributed to 37% in villages, about 24% in cities, and about 32% in major states.

Jabr points to the class and ideological diversity in the Justice and Development Party, which relies on the strong Turkish and Kurdish conservative bloc and the Islamists. Jabr also explains the influence of Erdogan’s great personality on the experience of this party.

As for the second axis of this chapter, it was written by Ismail Numan Talcı, and its title is “The Nationalist Movement Party: The Most Important Partner of the Power Camp,” in which it presents the party’s experience and its role in Turkish political life. It adopts the ideal nationalist thought that combines nationalism and Islam, and it is one of the strongest and most established political movements. In Turkish history. This party opposed both capitalism and communism and supported the 1971 coup. Then in 1980 it was closed and lawsuits were filed against it. He returned to work during the 1990s and was distinguished by his anti-Kurdish rhetoric. His supporters range from 10 to 20%, concentrated in central and western Anatolia, the western Black Sea, and eastern Anatolia. He calls for transparency and democracy, supports presidential rule, and considers the refugee issue in the country a threat to national security. It also calls for cooperation with the Turkish world in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and supports Turkish interventions abroad, good relations with the Arab world, and balancing the relationship with China and Russia and how this party contributed to Erdogan’s recent victory.

Then the third axis in this chapter, prepared by Zahir Al-Beik and Khalil Mabrouk, is entitled “The New Welfare: The Rising Conservative Party,” in which the two researchers approach the experience of the Welfare Party, which is a right-wing party with a religious background led by Mehmet Fatih Erbakan, the son of Necmettin Erbakan. This chapter discusses the issue of modernizing education and developing the structure of society, for the Welfare Party, and its opposition to agreements dealing with homosexuality.

In this axis, the researchers explain the Welfare Party’s belief in Turkish Islamic politics, the alliance between Islamic countries, its adoption of the Palestinian cause, its belief in the party’s international role, its negative stance toward the European West and the United States, and its consideration of Washington as the mastermind of the 1997 coup that overthrew Erbakan Sr.

The third chapter in the book is divided into five axes that deal with the reality of parties in the Turkish opposition.

Thus, the first axis, prepared by Nour al-Din al-Aidi, monitors the experience of the “Republican People’s Party,” the oldest party in Turkey, which was founded by Ataturk in 1923, ruled during the years (1923-1945), and was known as the guardian of the regime. It is the second largest party after the Justice and Development Party in terms of popular support in the major cities, in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, the coasts of the Aegean Sea and Trakia, and the Alawite regions of central Anatolia.

The party includes three movements: the Kemalist ideology, the secular urban middle class, and the Alawite sect, and it is currently presenting a discourse requesting forgiveness and social reconciliation. This party did not achieve success in the recent presidential elections, but it obtained approximately 48% of the votes.

In the second axis of this chapter, Imad Abu Al-Rous addresses the experience of “The Good Party between Rise and Stagnation,” being one of the largest political parties. It emerged in 2017 and its slogan is “Türkiye will be fine,” and is based on nationalists and conservatives who reject the presidential system.

The “Good Party” calls for protecting Turkish national security and achieving peace and good neighbourliness. It also supports a strong relationship with Europe and military operations abroad, and considers Cyprus a Turkish national security issue. It also adopts a policy of returning refugees, is flexible towards the Kurds, with a parliamentary system, and received about 10% of the votes in 2023.

Then “The Happiness Party” in the third axis prepared by Sadiq Sheikh Eid under the title “The Happiness Party: Heir to the Islamic Movement in the Heart of the Opposition.”

This party was founded in 2001, is Islamic in orientation, and is the heir to “Virtue” (1970). It won 81 municipalities in 2008. It adheres to religious teachings, and is located in central Anatolia, the eastern provinces, large cities, and the Black Sea coast, media and youth activist.

The Happiness Party calls for improving living conditions, the economy, developing education, and achieving social justice. It also views asylum from a humanitarian and religious perspective. It supports the hijab, rejects the Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women, and supports a political solution to the Kurdish issue. The party also supports Islamic cooperation, criticizes joining NATO and the relationship with Washington, and opposes the blockade of Iran.

The fourth axis in this chapter relates to both the “Future Party” and the “Democracy and Control Party,” and was prepared by Nour El-Din Al-Aidi under the title: “The Future and Democracy and Progress Parties: A Future at Stake.”

The “Future Party” was founded in 2019 by Ahmet Davutoğlu. He opposes the presidential system, seeks economic and judicial reform, works with minorities, is far from populism, and is conservative Islamic.

As for the “Democracy and Progress Party,” it was founded in 2020. It is the second splinter party from the “Justice and Development Party,” a liberal, centrist, technocratic party that emulates European values.

The fifth and final axis of this chapter includes a reading of the Democratic Party, its present and future. It is a right-wing, nationalist, secular, liberal party that supports the parliamentary system, is against the “Justice and Development” policy, and against any separatist movement. With the return of Syrian refugees, he supports heading west and staying away from Iran and the Arabs.

As for the fourth chapter, it included 4 axes, the first of which dealt with the “People’s Democratic Party” and the battle for survival in Turkish politics. In this axis, prepared by Abdul Aziz Mahmoud Abu Alyan, a reading of the Kurdish party that was founded in 2012 and has a leftist orientation, and seeks to represent “all the oppressed and marginalized.” The party focuses on feminism, gay rights, equality, participatory democracy, and youth. It also seeks to change the “Justice and Development” system, which it considers undemocratic.

The popular weight of this party is concentrated in southern and eastern Anatolia, and the Kurdish cities. It combines nationalism, conservatism, and Kurdish leftism, and is facing a lawsuit on charges of terrorism. The aforementioned party seeks to activate local administrations and officially adopt the Kurdish language alongside the Arabic language. He is not hostile to Syrian refugees and rejects Turkish foreign military intervention.

The second axis of this chapter was written by Mehmet Raqiboğlu, entitled “The Balad Party: A New Player on the Political Arena.”

The party, which was founded in 2021, Kamali opposes the presence of the Syrians, supports the national defense industries campaign, as well as military operations against the Kurds, refuses to intervene in Syria, and demands Turkey’s neutrality in the Ukrainian war. He rejects the centrality of cooperation with Washington, and his president ran for the presidential elections in the first round in 2023 and failed.

“The Victory Party: Hostility to Refugees in Turkish Politics,” by Ahmed Jamil Al-Asmar, is the title of the third axis of this chapter. The party is racist, against the Syrian and Arab foreign presence, and seeks to “preserve Turkey and its cultural identity and protect it from the onslaught of cultures.” The party leader expressed this path by putting forward the term “Anatolia Castle” strategy.

The fourth axis of this chapter was entitled “The Homeland Party: The Honest Voice of Eurasianism,” and was written by Kafrak supporters. This party is considered part of Turkish leftist thought, and it is an extension of the Turkish Socialist Party (1988). With the dissolution of the Communist Party (1992), the “Workers’ Party” was established, which later turned into the “Homeland Party.”

The Homeland Party supports the military establishment and is hostile to the Justice and Development Party. Adopts socialism and Kemalism. It calls for cooperation with West Asian countries, from Syria to Afghanistan, and neutralizing American influence, and emphasizes good relations with China and developing relations with Russia.

The final chapter of the book is entitled: “Political Pressure Groups,” and it includes three axes. The first section, entitled “Religious Groups in Turkey: Positions and Roles,” was written by Yusuf Bahadur Keskin, and divides religious groups into 3 eras: the first from 1923 until 1950, which is the era of Ataturkism and the abolition of religious manifestations. These groups expanded socially after 1950, and the government of Necmettin Erbakan gave them more space, and his relationship with them was one of the reasons for the coup against him.

Then the period of “Justice and Development” rule, which was the best for these groups. There are about 10,000 legal private educational institutions, a third of which are linked to religious groups. The majority of these groups support the Justice and Development Party.

Then the second axis is about the role of prominent Turkish families and their relationship with the economy and politics. In this topic, Gokhan Ereli presents the experience of some active families, especially active family businesses. The relationship between the “Justice and Development Party”, which was supported by many families, and the “Republican People’s Party” refers to the “Gang of Five” in an expression of 5 major family companies that support the “Justice and Development Party.”

As for the third and final axis of this chapter, it was written by Nour Al-Dalu under the title “Tosiad” and “Mosiad”: The business world in the trenches of politics.

TUSIAD was founded in 1971 and operates inside and outside Türkiye. It employs about 50% of Turkey’s workforce, excluding agriculture and the public sector, and represents 80% of corporate tax revenues.

As for MUSIAD, it was founded in 1990. It represents about 60,000 Turkish companies that employ about two million Turks, and has branches in 95 countries.

The two institutions play an essential role in marketing Türkiye globally, and they have had an influential role in the course of Turkish politics. TUSIAD opposes Erdogan’s recent policies and criticizes him, and therefore their relationship with the Justice and Development Party is somewhat cautious.

In conclusion, the book “Turkey in the New Century: The Political System, Parties, and Pressure Groups” presents the Turkish political scene at the level of the active forces in shaping the system, and presents the reality of its emergence, experience, role, and extent of influence, in an attempt to present the Turkish political scene from within to the reader, so that he can understand Turkey. In its true form and the factors influencing the course of its experience.


* Ali M. Shukr, Lebanese university professor and researcher in international relations

Articles with byline express the opinion of its author(s) exclusively; such content does not necessarily reflect the opinion or the position of Islamic Societies Review or its editors.

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