Critical junctures of securitisation: the case of the AK Party in Turkey

Sandal, Nukhet and Öztürk, Ahmet Erdi (2022) Critical junctures of securitisation: the case of the AK Party in Turkey. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 48 (1) (030437). pp. 38-53. ISSN 2163-3150


Authoritarian leaders try to create an environment conducive to the maintenance of their own ontological security. In this study, we advance a theory of tripartite securitization marked by critical junctures that shed light on how authoritarian actors establish a sense of security for themselves when they govern. Using elite interviews with actors from Turkey’s different political parties, we argue that the three major steps towards authoritarianism in Turkey involved restructuring core institutions and ‘cleansing’ them of the perceived hostile elements; doubling down on securitising existing internal and external ‘enemy’ identities; and securitising rivals that cannot be co-opted in the political process. This tripartite securitization starts with what we call ‘desecuritisation of the self’ in cases where the party in power itself was once the target of securitising acts. We trace how tripartite securitisation has unfolded in Turkey under the AK Party government, and we identify three critical junctures associated with this securitisation process: The Ergenekon and Balyoz Trials, the KCK Trials and the 2016 Failed Coup Attempt.

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