Skip to main content

Photo: “Turkish flag, near the entrance into Gulhane Part, Istanbul, Turkey” by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin, licensing under CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED. Hue modified from original.

Paul Kubicek (2023) Liberalism: the missing piece in Turkey’s political development, Turkish Studies, 24:3-4, 476-499


Prominent themes in Turkey’s political development are modernization and Westernization, notions that carry with them a particular teleology in terms of expected political outcomes. While Turkey has, over several decades, modernized in several respects, Westernization has arguably been much more limited, particularly in terms of embracing political liberalism. This paper scrutinizes its failure to take root in Turkey, noting how a congruence of factors at both the mass and elite levels tends to work against policies that would embrace individual rights and freedoms, pluralism, and a more limited role for the state. It focuses in particular on three periods in Turkish history when liberalism could have potentially been adopted, but ultimately failed to succeed.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.