25 July 2016

Two of our Distinguished Scholars have addressed recent events in Turkey in interviews and articles. 

 Jeremi Suri

Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Jeremi Suri was recently interviewed by Austin KXAN News on the significance of the military coup attempt in Turkey. According to Dr. Suri, the coup attempt was a response by the Turkish military against an increasing Islamist leadership. The Turkish Republic was founded as a secular republic at the end of WWI. Since then, the military has defended its secular rule. In recent years, however, Turkish leadership has become more inclusive of Islamic principles.

According to Dr. Suri, "what we're seeing in Turkey is not an attack on Islam, it's an attack on a democratic process." A Pew Research Center poll conducted last year found that half of Turkey's citizens are not satisfied with the current democratic system, while the other half is. Dr. Suri emphasized the need for supporting the democratic process, and stated that "our position should be [that] the person elected by the people of the country, should be the leader of the country."

The KXAN news piece can be seen here.

Jason Brownlee

In March 2016, Distinguished Scholar Jason Brownlee wrote the piece "Why Turkey's authoritatian descent shakes up democratic theory" for the Washington Post''s Monkey Cage. Dr. Brownlee argued that "one of the firmest laws of modern democratization," which correlates economic success with democratic opennes, is put to the test when a relatively rich country like Turkey slides towards dictatorship.

Despite Turkey's non-oil GDP being $10,421 (2010), its growing middle class has not become more effective at demanding accountability from its leaders. Dr. Brownlee suggested that "the economic forces that previously bolstered democracy appear[ed] to be weakening." For him, whether or not this shift away from democracy could be offset remained to be determined. 

The complete aricle can be accessed here.