Turkey today evolves very fast, due to the joint influence of external factors and internal dynamics that are sometimes difficult to grasp.
The beginning of negotiations to adhere to the European Union allowed the Turkish government to pursue a series of political reforms in order to conform to the criteria demanded by Copenhagen. After many years of severe structural adjustment the Turkish economy benefits from outstanding growth rates that confirm its status as a promising emerging market. Turkish civil society also seems to acquire and strengthen an autonomous voice in the debates to come.
However, there are many uncertainties that are here to stay. As this process of change is still unfinished, the permanent state of political crisis comes at the expense of economic stability. Institutional models and political culture are undergoing a phase of mutations whose outcomes are difficult to predict. Experiencing a rural exodus and new forms of social mobility, the Turkish population is aware of the important consequences these profound changes have on the social contract and national consensus. On a diplomatic level, Turkey is oscillating between the ardent European demands, exercises of power that may lead to a loss in sovereignty, and the other tempting alliances that could strengthen its status as a regional power that cannot be ignored.
Far from simplifying the Turkish mosaic, the intensification of its relations with the European Union seems to complicate it: new subject positions emerge that emphasize the need to create new tools of understanding. We must look at contemporary Turkish reality with a new eye in order to spot these new actors, factors of mobilization and lines of cleavage that weigh on Turkey’s choices.