The ‘Politics of Turkey’ holds relevance to the subject of comparative politics due to the uniqueness and multi-dimensional composition of the nation’s polity, culture and geography. Moreover, Turkey’s political history has had many notable achievements and as well as some obvious failures, lending itself to a longitudinal comparative case study. Geographically located at the joint of Europe, Asia and Arabia, the nation’s demography is culturally, linguistically and religiously diversified. Generally, policy making is conducted within the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The Prime Minister is the head of the government. The President (Cumhurbaskani in the vernacular) has a nominal role as the head of state, who oversees the functioning of this multi-party system. The 1982 Referendum was a key event in the country’s history, as it changed the complexion of the policymaking process. In modern Turkey, the three key political principles are Kemalism, Laicism and Modernization. Due to these different facets that draw from both Western and Eastern traditions, the ‘politics of Turkey’ is a suitable inclusion in a comparative politics course.
A focus area of Turkey’s policy framework is its relationship with the United States. This is a strategically important diplomatic relationship for both countries as there is much to be gained through mutual co-operation. Indeed the U.S. has been a major aid-provider to Turkey over the last few years. But Turkey’s challenge lies in balancing this key relationship with that of its neighbors. As many of Turkey’s neighbors are culturally oriented towards Islam, its policy makers will have to tread carefully to not offend American interests in the region. A comparative study of Turkey’s (and its Islamic neighbors’) relationship with the United States is a relevant exercise in the context of contemporary geo-politics.
Finally, Turkey has a vibrant political culture, with different ideological viewpoints jostling for center-stage. This situation makes it an apt inclusion in comparative politics. For example, we see strands of neo-liberalism, Socialism, Anarchism and Islamism all finding mention in the national political discourse. Women of Turkey are also at a cross-roads, as Western influences are overwhelming their adherence to Islamic codes of dressing, public conduct, role within the family, etc. The challenge for policy makers is to give room for the expression of these various ideas in an atmosphere of harmony and tolerance.
E. Ozbudun, 2000, Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation, Published by Lynne Rienner.
Carol Migdalovitz, Turkey: Selected Foreign Policy Issues and U.S. Views, August 29, 2008, retrieved from < http://www.setav.org/ups/dosya/13181.pdf> on 17th November, 2011
Ersel Aydinli, Nihat Ali Özcan, and Dogan Akyaz (January/February 2006). “The Turkish Military’s March Toward Europe”. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 16 December 2008.