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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2010

1 - Introduction


Turkey is the only Muslim secular-democratic state: the Atatürk Revolution (1923–38) relegated Islam to the private sphere; yet Islam has remained an active force in Turkish society, manifest both in the articulated views of some intellectual elites and in the activities of secretive, grassroots Islamic religious brotherhoods or orders (tarikats). But repeated attempts to establish an Islamic political party in the period following World War II ended in failure until the foundation of the National Order Party (NOP) in 1970. An Islamist social movement has achieved unqualified success only since the 1990s. An Islamist successor to the NOP, the Welfare Party (WP) entered the government by securing the highest vote share (21.4%) in the 1995 general elections along with 158 seats in the 550-seat parliament. The most recent in a series of successive Islamist parties, the Justice and Development Party (JDP), is now the party of government as a result of its securing 34.3 percent of the popular vote in the 2002 general elections, entitling it to 363 seats in parliament. The party further increased its support in the 2007 general elections by securing 46.6 percent of the popular vote and 341 seats in parliament, and following the elections, placed its candidate into the presidency of Turkey.