Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), populism has become a pervasive feature of the “new” Turkey. In the latest Turkey Project Policy Paper, Nora Fisher Onar of George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies explores the tension between populism and realism as a driver of uncertainty in Turkey’s domestic and foreign affairs. The paper examines the sources, evolution, and consequences of AKP populism since 2002, including the problematic disconnect between anti-Western domestic rhetoric and the recent need for pro-Western pragmatism as Turkey’s regional ambitions have been confronted by the disorder spilling across its borders.
On February 4, 2016, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) hosted a panel discussion to explore the tone and substance of Turkey’s politics and foreign policy as the country emerges from a polarizing electoral cycle. Fisher Onar presented the conclusions of her new paper “The Populism/Realism Gap: Managing Uncertainty in Turkey’s Politics and Foreign Policy”. Following her remarks, Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Alan Makovsky of the Center for American Progress, and Kadir Ustun of the SETA Foundation offered their perspectives. The discussion was moderated by Brookings TUSIAD Senior Fellow Kemal Kirişci.