Emotional Motives of Erdoğanism in the Turkish Diaspora

Nagehan Tokdogan

Taksim Square, Istanbul (2019), digital exhibition center of 15th of July coup attempt

For almost sixteen years now, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the leader of AKP, the former prime minister and the current president of Turkey, has enduringly been a symbolic figure through his speeches and behaviours regarding both internal and foreign policies. Not surprisingly, Erdoğan’s leadership and the ever-increasing support he has received from the masses have been a subject of academic interest throughout the years. Yet, almost all the literature about the AKP rule and Erdoğan’s leadership has somehow ignored the emotional motives of the masses supporting Erdoğan.

This research aims to gain an insight into Erdoğan’s leadership since 2003; how he became the symbol of the emotional motives of a collectivity and how he gained support by embodying and reflecting the emotions of the masses in his political discourse, personal inclinations and behaviours. Drawing on the literature on the politics of emotions, this proposal argues that Erdoğan’s leadership traits as well as his personal history have appealed intensively to the desires, passions and needs of the masses and his power substantially results from his ability to arouse already existing emotions of the masses.

The Turkish context of “Erdoğanism” with regard to the emotions seems to be the result of his appeals to the emotional needs and desires of the members of the nation living in Turkey. Yet, we do not have a satisfactory explanation of the support Erdoğan has received from the Turkish diaspora worlwide throughout the years. For instance, in the presidential poll of 24 June 2018, Erdoğan got 64.8 percent of  votes among Turks living in Germany. This massive support from within the Turkish diaspora is striking and deserves academic inquiry.

My research will contribute to the literature regarding AKP’s reign and Erdoğanism in particular. The contribution will be specific in unravelling the emotional motives of the support from within the Turkish diaspora for Erdoğan’s regime, which is usually neglected in academic and political analysis. In terms of methodology, this research is planned to be conducted with the members of Turkish diaspora in Berlin by employing field work. The expected outcome of this field research is to give answers to the core questions of why and how Erdoğanism is so prevalent in the Turkish diaspora and what the emotional motives and experiences behind this tendency are.

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