Stepan, author of “Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation” and “Crafting State Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies,” among other books, is the winner of this year's Karl Deutsch prize in comparative politics. Unfortunately, none of his studies, highly relevant to students of political science in Turkey, have been translated into Turkish. I suspect Turkish readers are familiar with Kuru's book “Secularism and State Policies Toward Religion: The United States, France and Turkey” (Cambridge University Press, 2009), which has been translated into Turkish.
“Democracy, Islam and Secularism in Turkey” includes – along with an article co-authored by Stepan and Kuru that deals with a comparison of the implementations of “laïcité” in Turkey, France and Senegal -- contributions by Karen Barkey, Şükrü Hanioğlu, Ergun Özbudun, Ümit Cizre, Joost Lagendijk and Stathis N. Kalyvas, all of which are valuable analyses that deal with different aspects of politics in Turkey today.
The contribution to which I would like to bring to attention here is the article by Kalyvas, a Yale professor of political science who is perhaps best known for his study “The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe” (Cornell, 1996). What makes his article, titled “The ‘Turkish Model' in the Matrix of Political Catholicism,” particularly interesting is its analysis of the similarities between the evolution of Catholicism-based political mobilization in Europe and the Islam-based one in Turkey.
Kalyvas' argument can be summarized around the following points. The Kemalist model, which stands for the establishment of a secular nation-state in Turkey in the early 1920s, was hailed particularly in the decades following the end of World War II as one of the most successful models for modernization. This first “Turkish model” has gradually faded away, and a new one has replaced it. The new “Turkish model” rests on interaction between religiously rooted politics and a process of liberalization and democratization. Although there are many elements that are specific to Turkey, it still shares several elements with another now largely forgotten case of Catholic mobilization that took place in 19th century Europe, the precursor to Christian democracy.
According to Kalyvas, it is clear that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey has challenged the hard-line secularism of Kemalism, while it has been at the forefront of an effort to put forward an understanding of Islamic identity that reconciles with social and political modernization. Despite its Islamist coloration, the AKP has not implemented radical, anti-system policies that would undermine the secular nature of the Turkish state or its democratic institutions. It has, on the contrary, helped strengthen these institutions through reforms adopted in the course of the process of accession to the European Union.
Kalyvas points to the parallelism in the evolutions of Christian democracy in Europe and Muslim democracy inTurkey (dubbed conservative democracy by the AKP) as follows. The Catholic political movement set out with the aim to challenge the liberal and secular character of European political modernity but gradually transformed itself to contribute to the consolidation of liberal democracy and to entirely forgot its anti-liberal origins. This transformation, which is reflected also in the evolution of social democracy, tells the story of the capacity of democratic institutions to absorb their enemies while expanding.
Kalyvas argues that the basic message of the new Turkish model is this: Liberalization and democratization are more likely in places where states provide rewards for moderation while sanctioning anti-system behavior. In Turkey, the state has, by preventing radicalism and rewarding participation, paved the way for the mutual adaptation of moderate Islamism and democratic transformation. This message shows the way for Arab Spring countries to eventually establish new democracies.
I agree with most of Kalyvas' analysis. But if he is arguing that the military-bureaucratic tutelage of the regime has helped democracy take root in Turkey, I would say he needs to take a closer look at the Turkish experience. Military-bureaucratic tutelage has hindered rather than facilitated the consolidation of democracy in Turkey, which is still pending.