Moderation of Religious and Secular Politics, a Country's ‘Centre,’ and Democratization

Democratization, 2012, DOI:10.1080/13510347.2012.732069

40 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2012 Last revised: 11 Dec 2012

Date Written: 2012


Based on a within-case comparative analysis of Turkish democratization since the 1920s and data on elite values, this essay develops a theoretical framework to better explain the moderation of religious and secular politics and democratization. First, it is maintained that the content of moderation and its effects on democracy will vary among countries depending on each country’s domestic and international context — called a country’s “centre” — and political rivals’ reactions. Second, moderation can further democratization only insofar as it occurs with a democratic centre. Third, absent a democratic centre, moderation may involve adoption, retention and reproduction of the centre’s undemocratic attributes. In such cases, the challenge of democratization is not moderation per se but the construction of a new, democratic centre. Fourth, moderation is interactive between religious and secular actors, multidimensional and reversible. Turkish democratization began with the moderation of authoritarian-secular actors, but generated only a semi-democracy because the changes were not institutionalized through explicit and formal compromises to produce a fully democratic centre. Turkish political Islamism moderated during the 1990s. However, in spite of, major achievements, democratization remained ambiguous under the rule of moderate Islamists because they compromised and associated themselves with the semi-democratic centre, and secular-religious cooperation failed while some secular actors de-moderated.

Keywords: Democratization, moderation, religious politics, secular politics, political Islamism, Muslim politics, Turkey, the Middle East

Suggested Citation

Somer, Murat, Moderation of Religious and Secular Politics, a Country's ‘Centre,’ and Democratization (2012). Democratization, 2012, DOI:10.1080/13510347.2012.732069, Available at SSRN:

Murat Somer (Contact Author)

Koc University Istanbul ( email )

Rumelifeneri Yolu
34450 Sar?yer
Istanbul, 34450

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