Despite the growing literature on Turkish populism, there is yet no consensus on how best to categorise the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AKP). This article argues that this lack of consensus is due to a selective focus on the attributes of AKP’s populism. Indeed, when the party’s features are examined holistically, it does not neatly conform to the dominant typologies of populism, which were conceived mostly for European and Latin American examples. For historical reasons, AKP’s populist discourse defines “the people” versus “the elite” in civilisational terms and combines this with strategies of neo-liberalism, strong party organisation and grassroots mobilisation. This blend of populism distinguishes the AKP case from the exclusionary/inclusionary and classical/neo-liberal/radical typologies previously identified by the literature. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party in India and the Thai Rak Thai Party in Thailand have similar attributes to the AKP, drawing attention to the need to move beyond the existing ideological and strategic approaches to populism and towards a more comprehensive socio-cultural approach. The article contributes to the literature on populism by highlighting possible avenues for further research based on such a comprehensive understanding of populism based also on cases from Asia.
Bibliographical note© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Funding: Turkish Science Academy’s BAGEP Award.
- Neo-liberal populism
- exclusionary populism