Turkey Under the AKP: The Kurdish Question

Issue Date January 2012
Volume 23
Issue 1
Page Numbers 119-128
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Turkish state policy toward the Kurds, the Republic of Turkey’s largest ethnic minority, has evolved from denial and mandatory assimilation to cultural recognition to acknowledgment of the Kurds’ contested status as a political problem demanding political solutions. The election of 36 Kurdish-nationalist lawmakers, most of whom now sit in parliament as representatives of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), bolsters the salience of Kurdish nationalism and the need to accommodate it through normal politics rather than attempt to suppress it through violence. How state authorities and politicians handle the Kurdish question will continue to say much about both the success of Turkey’s efforts at democratic consolidation and, more generally, the potential for democracy to manage problems involving self-conscious and mobilized national minorities dwelling within the borders of strong and highly centralized nation-states.

About the Author

Ragan Updegraff is program assistant at the National Endowment for Democracy. He is a frequent writer and commentator on Turkish politics and maintains the blog Turkish Politics in Action.

View all work by Ragan Updegraff