Islamic Studies Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP)
Oliver Leaman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 June 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 June 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0163


The Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP), or Justice and Development Party, was founded in August 2001 and has achieved remarkable success in Turkey, winning three elections consecutively, in 2002, 2007, and 2011. There have been many discussions about how far its success represents a break with previous Turkish history and politics, and a profound threat to the official secularism of the country itself. Led by the charismatic Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the party’s period of power has coincided with a time of unprecedented economic progress for Turkey, and its first ten years of government saw a rapid growth in the status and influence of the nation. It has taken an independent line in both domestic and foreign affairs. There have been a variety of reactions to the AKP both from within and outside of Turkey, and the party has energetically set out to maintain a powerful position in Turkish politics.

General Overview of Politics in Modern Turkey

The Turkish Republic established by Kemal Ataturk in 1923 took a firmly secular tone, as discussed in Zűrcher 2004, although Göçek 1996 argues that the sources of secularism are to be found even earlier. Ataturk saw modernity and secularism as two sides of the same coin, as Berkes 1998 explains, and Mardin 1995 explores the consequences this had for Islam, the religion of the vast majority of people in the country. Even before the election of more religiously inclined parties, Turkey was reevaluating its strong links with the West and secularism, which were often thought, in Turkey at least, to be linked. The 1973 oil embargo on Israel, and its supporters, seriously harmed the economy and made a new approach to the oil-producing countries tempting, especially since both they and Turkey were predominantly Muslim nations. The 1974 invasion of northern Cyprus led to Turkey’s exclusion from Europe, and the consequent embargo made it turn more toward the Arab and Islamic world, even though, in diplomatic terms, Turkey received no more support from them than from the West. Arab financial institutions, including Islamic banks, became more significant in Turkey, and as Köni 2012 and Muhittin 2009 show, the various governments that came to power sought to emphasize the country’s Islamic roots and links with the Arab world more than previous governments. Öktem 2010 and Kerslake, et al. 2010 describe the ways in which the AKP has linked liberal economic policies with religion.

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