Reading the post kemalism and democracy discussions over the concepts of agonism and antagonism

Mantoglu A. S.

Zeitschrift fur Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 2024 (ESCI) identifier


Post Kemalist paradigm is an significant concept in Turkey’s post-1980 democracy debates. The Post Kemalist alliance, which started out as an intellectual movement by intellectuals belonging to different ideological traditions to address Turkey’s fundamental issues, has become one of the most frequently referred to names in the national and international public debates on Turkey’s democracy. Turkey, which is restructuring its democratic institutions and legal bodies for a pluralist democracy, rule of law and a social structure based on broad consensus, trying to progress on a democratic ground on the way to the European Union (EU), is positioned at a new threshold with the discussions on Post Kemalism and democracy. This study attempts to examine the imaginations of the Post Kemalist paradigm and the politics in which they embodied through Chantal Mouffe’s shift from the politics of antagonism as a struggle between enemies in the political sphere to agonist politics as a lively struggle for democracy between rivals. The hegemony of Post-Kemalism, which continued from the 1980s until 2015/16, has been weakened by the authoritarianisation process created by the internal and external conjuncture. The agonistic democracy envision of the post-Kemalist paradigm has turned into Schmitt’s friend/enemy relationship in the real world. The agonistic political model and ideals have failed. This failure has added new ones to the chronic problems of Turkish politics and restructured the political sphere.