Building a competitive authoritarian regime: state-business relations in the AKP’s Turkey
Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies
349 - 372
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The most recent global wave of democratic reversal is marked by executive takeovers. Politically motivated interventions in domestic markets aimed at restructuring the underlying power dynamics in society have been part and parcel of these takeovers. This article investigates the new political economy behind the AKP’s competitive authoritarian rule in Turkey as an example of this larger trend. The article argues that the AKP government has built a loyal business class through an elaborate system of rewards and punishment since 2002. With the aim of consolidating its business constituency, the AKP politicized state institutions (debt collection, tax authorities, privatization, public procurement) and eroded the rule of law to distribute rents and resources to its supporters, transfer capital from its opponents to its supporters, and to discipline dissidents in business circles. These mechanisms allowed the party to skew the political playing field in its favour through its access to private resources as well as its disproportionate access to the media—built by pro-AKP businessmen—and thus underpinned the AKP’s competitive authoritarian regime.