Jonas Knoblach: „Legitimation Strategies of Turkish and Tunisian Political Parties from 2001-2020“

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Legitimation Strategies of Turkish and Tunisian Political Parties from 2001-2020

Jonas Knoblach

Over the past two decades, Turkey and Tunisia have been seen as potential role models for the democratisation process in the MENA-region. Due to the authoritarian drift under Erdoğan and Saied, this assessment is hardly convincing anymore. The suggested function as role model was attributed to these states not least because of their politically influential Islamic actors, the Tunisian Ennahda and the Turkish AKP, who were seen as exemplifying compatibility of a liberal market economy, moderate Islam and democracy. While democratic consolidation stalled in Tunisia after 2011, especially after the ousting of parliament by President Saied, Turkey has now slipped into authoritarian structures. In both countries, the democratic system was never fully anchored and democratic structures are further eroding. In contrast to the majority of previous research contributions, this project does not examine the Islamic parties in isolation from other political currents, but places them in a spectrum with secular, liberal, nationalist and left-wing groups. The central question is whether the AKP and Ennahda lived up to the special role they described by differing significantly from other parties in their conceptions of legitimacy. It will be examined whether the two parties‘ programs actually corresponded to the triad of democracy, liberal market economy and Islamic religion, and whether they stood out from the rest of the party landscape and thus fulfilled the suggested unique selling point. It is also interesting to ask whether modifications in the parties‘ programs are discernible as a result of the democratization or autocratization phases. When analyzing the programs, it must be taken into account that public rhetoric and political reality can sometimes diverge considerably. The actual truth of the statements made in the programs, however, is of secondary importance for the research project. It examines how the parties present themselves and what strategies they choose to attract voters. The focus is thus on the ideology-critical level, while the action level is neglected.