12 Apr 2007

Political Islam in Turkey

Senem Aydın / Ruşen Çakır

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This working paper is based on a contribution made to a conference on “Political Islam and the European Union” organised by CEPS and La Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE) and hosted by the Fundación Tres Culturas in Sevilla on 24-25 November 2006. At this conference, Arab and Turkish scholars presented papers on the ‘Muslim democrat’ political parties of the Arab Mediterranean states and Turkey. The authors find that Turkey differs from the Arab states studied not only in enjoying an EU membership prospect, but also in the fact that a broadly Islamist-oriented party has been in office since 2002. However, the growing mistrust towards Europe as a result of perceived discrimination and EU double standards is beginning to cloud positive perceptions within the party. Decreasing levels of support for EU membership in Turkish society and the fact that explicitly eurosceptic positions are coming now from both the left and the right of the political spectrum, suggest that the sustainability of the pro-European discourse within the party could in the longer run be difficult to maintain.