Protest by the people for the government: pro-government mobilization in AKP’s Turkey, 2013-2016
This dissertation explores the protest dynamics of government supporters under the authoritarian Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) government in Turkey. Analyzing contentious dynamics from January 1, 2013 until December 31, 2016, this thesis examines pro-government mobilization theoretically and empirically. Based on original event data on protests, repression, and pro-government contentious events I collected from two newspapers, Cumhuriyet and Yeni Şafak, with 9083 episodes, this research dissects contentious actions of government supporters and aims to explain why and how such mobilization practice occurred in Turkey. To provide a systematic answer, I offer three elements that generate a conducive environment for pro-government contention: threat, authoritarianism, and framing.
On this basis, first, I suggest threat as the main component that drives governments to adopt pro-government contention. In my case, I argue that the AKP appeals to pro-government contention when it feels politically threatened. Second, I show that the mobilizing power of the threat—and its capacity to generate pro-government contention—is dependent on the regime type. Therefore, I argue that political threats could generate pro-government contention as the AKP became gradually more authoritarian, and such contention was absent during its democratic phases. Finally, I suggest that governments build frames of pro-government contention, and not government supporters. I argue that the AKP utilizes various framing tools to create a conducive environment for mobilizing pro-government audiences and such frames are reflected in the street by government supporters.