In Turkey, the cult of Ataturk gives way to the cult of Erdogan

Arega Hovsepyan
Content Type
Journal Article
Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
Issue Number
Publication Date
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
After the attempted coup d’état of 15 July 2016, discussion inside expert circles about the construction of a “new” Turkey took on a new urgency. The result of the 2017 constitutional referendum remade Turkey’s political institutions, but the events of the 2016 coup attempt also catalyzed changes to the symbolism of the state. The ruling Justice and Development Party, whose slogans had long promised “a new Turkey,” was at the forefront of the surge in hardened messaging. The cornerstone of this “new Turkey” is а classical concentration of political power in the hands of one person, specifically President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kemalism, Turkey’s founding ideology, is in the process of being replaced by the new ideology of the new president. Although it is still early to characterise this new ideology in Turkey as “Erdoğanism”, the similarities and contradictions of Kemalism and Erdoğanism lend insight on the structure of Turkish politics. The era of Erdoğan has been unleashed in Turkey, and moreover, its eponym is eager to not only replace the personality cult of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, but also to surpass the historic founder’s titanic image.
Politics, History, Authoritarianism, Ideology, Coup
Political Geography
Europe, Turkey, Middle East