Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 20, Issue 4

Mehmet Gurses, "Islamists, democracy and Turkey: A test of the inclusion-moderation hypothesis," Party Politics, 20 (July, 2014), 646-653. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
Scholars and observers have proposed alternative policies ranging from outright repression to participatory practices to address the demands from Islamists. The latter approach stems from the inclusion-moderation hypothesis, which contends that as Islamists interact with democratic institutions they experience a transformation and adopt a more moderate stance toward democracy. This incentive-based approach builds upon the premise that the emergence of political opportunities can provide for shifts in Islamists' perspectives on democracy. Participation in democratic systems, as Tepe (2005) argues, causes religious parties to undergo 'internal secularization' by redefining and reinterpreting religious ideas and practices to accommodate secular ideas. As they participate in the democratic process they evolve and thereby experience a transformation, with previous ideals and goals becoming subject to the internal logic of the game of democratic bargaining (Mufti, 1999: 114). This process leads to changes in discourse and, as Nasr (1995: 283) argues, leads Islamist parties (even those with revolutionary goals and discourses such as Jama'at-i Islami of Pakistan) to become a part of the system they seek to replace. In a similar vein, Wickham (2004), in her analysis of a splinter group from the Muslim Brotherhood, Wasat Party, concludes that despite some inherent tensions between the party's democratic and Islamic commitment the party has moderated its core values and beliefs. For example, Wickham (2004: 219) states that, 'in the campaign for democracy and human rights, issues that were initially of only instrumental importance metamorphosed into matters of principle. For example, what began as opposition to the torture of suspected Islamic militants became opposition to torture as a basic violation of human rights, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators or the victim'.

Figures and Tables:
Table I. Summary statistics for the independent variables.
Table II. Multiple regression results for attitudes toward democracy in Turkey.

Last Paragraph:
Lastly, it should be noted that the results from the statistical analysis might fail to capture the change in Islamist parties' attitudes toward democracy as the AKP's constituency has become broader and more diverse. The AKP's support base is not limited to Islamists; it also includes many of those known as liberal democrats. The Islamists and devout Muslims back the AKP with the expectation that it can deliver on 'unstated and unfulfilled' promises. The liberal democrats, on the other hand, have lent their support to the AKP for the economic and political reforms it has undertaken since 2002 (Baran, 2008: 56). The change might be a product of changes in the size and composition of the voters.10 Thus, this study might be measuring changes in the values of voters since 2000, which may not necessarily provide a direct test for moderating effects of participation. That said, political parties tend to move away from rigid ideological world-views as they compete for public support in elections. In other words, constituency values can become a critical factor in shaping party orientations as electoral considerations provide incentives to abandon radical views and embrace more moderate views in order to appeal to a larger segment of voters (see, for instance, Tezcur, 2010a). Thus, despite some theoretical and empirical limitations which can weaken the validity of the findings, the results from this study suggest the possibility of a value change as Islamists interact with democratic institutions and practices.

Last updated June 2014