• Carl Bengtsson

The Rise of Political Islam


The coalition between Erdoğan’s AKP and the nationalist MHP, which took form after the election in spring 2015, may have appeared strange to many people. The collaboration between Islamists and nationalist is, however, by no means anything new, but rather has deep underlying causes – causes which have paved the way for the situation we see today. The final power overtake of the Islamists may at the same time not be seen as a paradigm change, but rather as part of a continuum.



Photo by Haidan on Unsplash


‘National will’ against ‘national destiny’


Since Turkey’s first free election in 1950, political Islam’s struggle for power has been perennial. The introduction of free elections meant per definition that politicians had to fight to win votes. Seemingly, there was for sure no better way of doing that than by appealing to the people’s religious sentiments[1]. Less surprisingly, the first free election ended up with a landslide victory by the Islamist Demokrat Parti (DP), sending an echo of the forces of Islam[2].


The DP was established by Adnan Menderes in 1946 with the goal to provide a party that was softer towards religion, while being more economically liberal than the Kemalists. The Kemalists, seeing their ‘secular’ legacy threatened, stroke back by ousting the Islamist DP government in the military coup of 1960, while Menderes was hanged the year after