Despite the remarkable scholarly attention to populism and populist parties, the relation between populism and religion remains understudied. Using evidence from two long-term ruling populist parties–Turkey’s Justice and Development Party and Macedonia’s Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity–this study focuses on how and why religion can be an instrument for populist politics at three levels: (i) discursive, (ii) public policy and (iii) institutionalised alliances with religious authorities. The study highlights that religion comes into play at these three levels once populists attain comfortable electoral margins but encounter mounting political and economic challenges that can potentially weaken their grip on power. Ruling populists co-opt and monopolise the majority religion in the name of ‘the people’s will’ as they increasingly undermine democratic legitimacy but they need to justify their systematic crackdown on dissent, the system of checks and balances, the rule of law and minorities. The empirical findings of the study also demonstrate the dual function of religion for populists: its catch-all potential to create cross-class and cross-ethnicity popular support, and its instrumentality to discredit dissent as ‘religiously unfit’ while constructing an antagonism of ‘the people’ versus ‘the elites’.

Co-opting religion: how ruling populists in Turkey and Macedonia sacralise the majority

Yabanci B.
;
2018

Abstract

Despite the remarkable scholarly attention to populism and populist parties, the relation between populism and religion remains understudied. Using evidence from two long-term ruling populist parties–Turkey’s Justice and Development Party and Macedonia’s Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity–this study focuses on how and why religion can be an instrument for populist politics at three levels: (i) discursive, (ii) public policy and (iii) institutionalised alliances with religious authorities. The study highlights that religion comes into play at these three levels once populists attain comfortable electoral margins but encounter mounting political and economic challenges that can potentially weaken their grip on power. Ruling populists co-opt and monopolise the majority religion in the name of ‘the people’s will’ as they increasingly undermine democratic legitimacy but they need to justify their systematic crackdown on dissent, the system of checks and balances, the rule of law and minorities. The empirical findings of the study also demonstrate the dual function of religion for populists: its catch-all potential to create cross-class and cross-ethnicity popular support, and its instrumentality to discredit dissent as ‘religiously unfit’ while constructing an antagonism of ‘the people’ versus ‘the elites’.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3730002
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