Public Lecture: The State of Democracy in the ‘New’ Turkey, Dr. Ömer Tekdemir & Dr. Bill Kissane, 10 October 2016, King’s College London

Speakers: Dr Bill Kissane, Reader in Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Dr Ömer Tekdemir, research associate at the School of History, Politicsand International Relations, University of Leicester and visiting lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster.
Chair: Mr. William Park, Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London.
Date: Monday, 10 October 2016
Time: 18:30
Location: King’s College, Strand Campus Room S-1.27, WC2R 2LS

PLEASE NOTE: The event is free, but pre-registration is required.
Please follow this link for registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-state-of-democracy-in-the-new-turkey-tickets-28272228998

We are pleased to announce Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey)’s public seminar titled “The State of Democracy in the ‘New’ Turkey” to be delivered by Dr Ömer Tekdemir, based in the University of Leicester and University of Westminster, and Dr Bill Kissane, based in the London School of Economics and Political Science. The event will take place on Monday, 10 October 2016 at 18.30 at  King’s College, Strand Campus Room S-1.27, WC2R 2LS. This seminar will be kindly chaired by William Park who is a Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London.

The failed coup attempt of the 15th of July appears to have led to a new juncture in the history of Turkish democracy. Heeding the calls of President Erdoğan, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to defend the democratically-elected government. With consequent attempts to rebuild the state now on the agenda, do the mass rallies of the AKP, supported by the CHP and the MHP herald the emergence of a new democratic turn? Is this echoed by the purging of unaccountable and secretive religious orders in the state, and the emergence of a new meritocratic order? Or are we on the cusp of a more polarised and more tense political period, as suggested by renewed violence and military operations at home and abroad? What is to be made of the exclusion of the HDP, after their electoral gains in 2015, from the democracy rallies?

Ömer Tekdemir’s analysis of the current state of democracy focuses on the role of the HDP. Arguing that Turkey has been gripped by the securitisation of politics, from both the conventional left and the right, Tekdemir claims that the HDP was able to respond to the crisis that this caused. The neoliberal policies of the ‘new’ Turkey and its approach to the public sphere have resulted in many citizens being deemed ‘others’, who were unable to find an alternative politics expressing their wishes amongst the established political parties. However, the majoritarian and authoritarian tendency of Turkish democracy has prevented these people from having an effective vote. As a consequence, they have adopted the HDP’s project of radical democracy, as a means of challenging the AKP’s hegemonic conservative democracy, which has increasingly polarized the society of Turkey.

Dr Omer Tekdemir is a research associate at the School of History, Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester and teaches as a visiting lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, London. Until recently, Omer has been a visiting fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University. He has obtained his PhD degree from the School of Government and International Affairs & Ustinov College, Durham University. His research interests include political theory, political economy, international relations, democracy, identity, conflict and the Middle Eastern, Turkey, and Kurdish area studies.

Bill Kissane’s presentation, titled, ‘Democratization in Turkey 1946-2016: empty slogan or endless quest?’ will focus on the history of democratization in Turkey leading up to the present. 1946 marked an important moment in the democratization of Turkey, since it ushered in multi-party electoral politics in earnest, in contrast to earlier brief experiments, such as those of 1925. Ever since 1946, democratization has been on the agenda of countless governments and has frequently been discussed in the public sphere in Turkey. Indeed, Turkey has been considered a state in transition, since at least the end of the Second World War to the present. The pervasiveness of the discourse of democracy also raises the question of the extent to which the essence of the concept is lost through overuse or misuse.

Notes on the Contributors

Dr Omer Tekdemir is a research associate at the School of History, Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester and teaches as a visiting lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, London. Until recently, Omer has been a visiting fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University. He has obtained his PhD degree from the School of Government and International Affairs & Ustinov College, Durham University. His research interests include political theory, political economy, international relations, democracy, identity, conflict and the Middle Eastern, Turkey, and Kurdish area studies.

Dr Bill Kissane is an Associate Professor (Reader) in Politics in the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he obtained his PhD and has been teaching full-time since 1998. His interests include civil wars and reconstruction, comparative constitutionalism, democratization, Ireland and Turkey. He has written extensively in these topics, most recently publishing his study of civil wars, Nations Torn Asunder: The Challenge of Civil War, in February 2016.

Mr. William Park is a Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London.

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