The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism

The “Turkish model” of governance promises the merger of Islam with democracy and free markets. It first took shape under Prime Minister Turgut Ozal in the 1980s and then crystallized under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has led Turkey since 2002. In this ambitious book, Tugal compares Turkey’s approach to those of Egypt, Iran, and Tunisia by examining how neoliberal economic strategies have played out in each place, paying particular attention to how governments have tried to engage devout Muslim constituencies in the neoliberal project. Tugal argues that the Arab uprisings of 2010–11 and the large antidevelopment protests that took place in Istanbul in 2013 demonstrated the failure of those efforts. But Tugal’s analysis is disjointed; cause and effect chase each other’s tails. He relies on jargon and leaves undefined key concepts, such as “political society,” “power bloc,” and “passive revolution”—a significant problem, since the book hinges not on new empirical evidence but rather on an analytic framework.

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