Turkey: How the Coup Failed

Issue Date January 2017
Volume 28
Issue 1
Page Numbers 59-73
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On 15 July 2016, Turkey was shaken by an attempted coup. For the first time in modern Turkish history—a history littered with attempted coups—the elected government thwarted the putsch. We suggest that the success of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in defeating the coup attempt is part and parcel of its competitive authoritarian regime. On the one hand, AKP’s extensive access to public and private resources, as well as its control over conventional and social media, bolstered its capacity to mobilize during the time of crisis. On the other hand, the regime’s electoral features have armored the AKP with political (not to mention popular) legitimacy, and have incentivized opposition parties to remain committed to the regime, rather than opt for an uncertain future under military rule. We conclude that the failure of the coup attempt not only indicates the resilience of competitive authoritarianism in Turkey, it may also pave the way for a more stable authoritarian regime under the AKP’s rule.

About the Authors

Berk Esen

Berk Esen is associate professor of political science at Sabancı University.

View all work by Berk Esen

Sebnem Gumuscu

Sebnem Gumuscu is associate professor of political science at Middlebury College.

View all work by Sebnem Gumuscu