From Weimar to Ankara: Carl Schmitt, sovereignty and democracy

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  • Acar Kutay
In this article, I draw on Carl Schmitt’s political and constitutional thought in order to reflect on the political struggle over the foundational norms and values of a constitutional settlement in modern Turkey. This analysis, which focuses on the relationship between democracy and sovereign decision in Schmitt’s thought, extends the implications of his writings beyond the Weimar Republic. I argue that the political movement of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) successfully identified itself with two distinct (yet partly overlapping) narratives in order to establish a truer democracy than the old regime, which was guarded by the military and the bureaucracy. The first narrative concerns the subordination of the will of the people to the guardianship model of the old regime. The second narrative involves negating the political decision of the Kemalist elites on the grounds of identity, in particular, the dissonance between the Kemalist ruling class and the Muslim majority of the society. The party under the leadership of Erdogan used the first narrative to dismantle the old establishment, without replacing it with a liberal–democratic constitution, and the second one to justify its claim to be the founding agent of a new regime. The new regime, which brought a peculiar presidency with strong executive powers, retained the old regime’s approach to national homogeneity. Nonetheless, the new regime detaches the name of Atatürk from the Kemalist ideology and secularism from nationalism, thereby inventing an image of Atatürk and nationalism purified from the modernist/secularist orientations of the founding political decision.
TidsskriftPhilosophy & Social Criticism
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)728-752
Antal sider25
StatusUdgivet - 2019

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