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Political Science Seminar: Şebnem Gümüşçü (Middlebury College)

Democracy or Authoritarianism: Islamist Governments in Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia

The first Islamist parties to come to power through democratic means in the Muslim world were those in Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the 2002 election in Turkey, and Ennahda (Renaissance Party) in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were both elected in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2010/11. Yet only Ennahda could be said to have fulfilled its democratic promise, with both AKP and Muslim Brotherhood governments reverting to authoritarianism. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork in three countries, Sebnem Gumuscu explains why some Islamist governments adhered to democratic principles and others took an authoritarian turn following electoral success. In her analysis she turns to internal factors and reveals factional strife within each party while unpacking balances of power among factions. By identifying the processes of party capture Gumuscu underlines the significance of internal factors in charting party trajectories and advancing democratic backsliding.

Şebnem Gümüşçü is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College. Her research interests include political Islam, democratization and democratic backsliding, Middle Eastern and North African politics. Her articles appeared in journals such as Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Democracy, Government and Opposition, Third World Quarterly, South European Society and Politics, and Middle Eastern Studies.

Her first book, co-authored with E. Fuat Keyman, titled Democracy, Identity, and Foreign Policy in Turkey: Hegemony through Transformation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), examines Turkey’s transformation under the Justice and Development Party since 2002 within the broader context of Turkish modernization.


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