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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2019

4 - Illiberal Media and Popular Constitution Making in Turkey

from Part II - Contextualizing Constitution Making in Turkey


This chapter examines the role of media and publicity in Turkey’s failed attempt at popular constitution making. The project of writing a new constitution through an inclusive, participatory, and consensus-driven process was mediated by an illiberal press in Turkey, where the AKP government routinely fortified its own media bloc and undermined critical voices. Based on a combination of newspaper content analysis and institutional history from 2011 to 2013, this chapter demonstrates how the Constitutional Conciliation Commission ‘Anayasa Uzlaşma Komisyonu, AUK’ first intended to break out of the polarized and repressed news cycles by instituting control over journalistic work. As the internal disagreements intensified and external actors became vocal about the new constitution, however, the AUK loosened its hold on the press, leading to a more polarizing narrative that reduced complex constitutional debates to simple ideological sound bites. By juxtaposing Turkey’s popular constitution-making experiment with its highly divisive, illiberal media, the chapter concludes by questioning some of the deeply held assumptions between democracy and media in contemporary theory.