ResearchTurkey Public Conference with Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin: Gezi Park and Competing Populisms in Turkey: The People of the Government vs. the People of the Protest

We are pleased to announce Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey)’s public conference entitled “Gezi Park and Competing Populisms in Turkey: The People of the Government vs. the People of the Protest in which Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin will give a talk . This event will take place on Thursday, 30 January 2014 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Franklin Wilkins Building Room 3.52, 150 Stamford Street, Waterloo Campus King’s College London, SE1 9NHDr. Simon Waldman of King’s College London will kindly chair this event.

Please find below the synopsis of  the talk along with short biographies of the speaker Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin and chair Dr. Simon Waldman:

Synopsis of the Talk

Gezi Park and Competing Populisms in Turkey: The People of the Government vs. the People of the Protest

Not only the plans to build a shopping mall at Gezi Park of Taksim Square but also excessive use of tear gas and police violence brought together one of the largest and diverse groups of protesters in Turkey’s history. The Minister of National Education once acknowledged that the belligerence of the government united various segments of the opposition that could never come together before. In fact, the protesters, which included inter alia environmentalists, football fans, Muslim revolutionaries, ultra-nationalists, feminists, LGBTs, Kurdish activists, Kemalists and the new youth. During the uprisings both the protesters and the government pursued a populist discourse to unite their followers. On the one hand, an examination of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, protest songs, slogans, street art, and humour indicate the populist nature of the Gezi movement. The rhetoric of the protest seems to divide the society as ‘the people’ and ‘the government’. Here the government indeed refers to ‘the rest of the people’ who support the government and the heavy-handed police intervention against the protesters. On the other hand, the society was divided, even polarized into two camps, by the demonizing rhetoric of the Prime Minister who characterized the protesters as plunderers supported by anti-Islamic and anti-Turkic forces versus the righteously good people who supported the government and the status quo. Thus, a populist strategy is visible both in the rhetoric of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Gezi Park protesters.

Speaker: Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Yeditepe University (İstanbul, Turkey), where he is teaching Turkish Politics and Research Methodology. He recently concluded his doctoral dissertation on Turkish political thought under supervision of Professor Feroz Ahmad. He holds a master’s degree in international economics from Yeditepe University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boğaziçi University. His works on nationalism, ethnicity and intellectual history of Turkey were published in Nations and Nationalism, Government and Opposition, and Bilgi ve Bellek. This year Dinçşahin will be participating in Yad-Vashem Museum’s Holocaust Program for Turkish academicians; and he is currently a visiting scholar at SOAS, University of London.

Chair: Dr. Simon Waldman is a lecturer in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Studies. His research is on state-building in Middle East, and Arab-Israeli conflict focusing on Israeli-Palestinian issue.

This event is free and open to public but it is a ticketed event that requires pre-registration. A ticket does not guarantee a seat. Please register and reserve a ticket at the link below or RSVP by sending an email to

You may download or view the advert of the event as PDF. pdf-icon



2 thoughts on “ResearchTurkey Public Conference with Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin: Gezi Park and Competing Populisms in Turkey: The People of the Government vs. the People of the Protest

  1. Betula Nelson

    Dincsahin’s lecture, though informative about some of the theories of popularism, was quite disappointing as it was delivered in a straight jacket of a theoretical model rather than an enlightening style. His conclusion, i.e that the Gezi movement was a failure -not resulting in a regime change- sounded premature and rigid which naturally met with a great deal of reaction and opposition from the audience. It was frustrating to see Dincsahin refraining from a wider analysis of the subject and only remaining loyal to the constrains of the narrow margins of his pet interest.
    The audience would have appreciated some further analysis of the on going movement – as it is still a fresh and an emotive subject, especially for the mainly Turkish origin audience. We heard nothing about the backlash both at home and abroad created by the brutal police interventions ordered by the prime minister. This has culminated in a sea change of opinion both in the US and EU media which had always been positive until than! Most importantly, the movement has raised the consciousness of Turkish people and adjusted their estimation of the meaning of real democracy while the true autocratic face of the state has been displayed.

  2. Berna Basatemur

    I agree totally with Betula Nelson’s comments. As Dr. Dincsahin’s lecture was about his work-in-progress, I sincerely hope that he would re-assess his conclusion and include a more complete analysis in his final paper. Yes, it is true that there has not been a regime change (yet), but this is because AKP government was not a single entity, but a two thronged force: the AKP politicians on the one hand, and the state institutions affiliated to the “Gulen movement”.

    Country-wide demonstrations were sparked off initially by the the police brutality against the Gezi Park sit-in. As Erdogan’s frustration grew, he has been revealing more about what he and his party really stands for. “The people of the protest” has evolved, increased and demos continue to take place, relating to wide ranging issues. Erdogan’s actions and pronouncements continue to be more and more absurd, offensive and embarrassing, not only to people at home, but also to the US and EU who have been supporting him. Now that the two sides of the governing forces are at loggerheads, even the “people of the government”, (i.e. those who voted for Erdogan and gave his party the majority seats–thanks to a very unfair election system and dodgy practices) can see this for themselves.

    I propose that it is not possible to analyse such an ongoing major social and political upheaval in a country without taking into account the wider international interests and forces at play (which cannot be dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” as they have been openly declared by the US and by Erdogan.) Now that Erdogan and his government is becoming increasingly untenable, it is important to remember that US support for Gulen (worldwide network of activities enjoying the backing of CIA and generous financial support by Saudi Arabia) is bound to be more enduring, as it serves US interests widely and less visibly. But a regime change needs more, there needs to be a political contender that can be an ally as well as win votes at home. This is a very sticky situation, indeed.

    I believe that Gezi movement cannot be dismissed as failure. It was the starting point of a phenomenal process of change in Turkey, with far reaching implications, and still evolving.


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