Understanding the Coup in Turkey

 

Still reeling from the latest terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day, the news from Turkey the next night, on 15 July 2016, at first didn’t seem to make sense, which was only augmented by a lack of reliable information. I happened to be with a Turkish woman and several experts on Turkey who quickly got on the phone to family still in Turkey and proceeded to narrate the event as it unfolded both on the ground and in Turkish media. Still, no one was very sure about what was going on, why, and who was doing it; questions that are still somewhat unanswered. Is this just another example of the turmoil our planet seems to be in? Is this an attempt by Erdogan to consolidate power? Below is a compilation of scholarly articles published in International Studies Quarterly that might give readers a better background understanding of the current situation.

For background, see Ay┼če Zarakol's comparison of prior coup dynamics in Turkey and Thailand. 

The stunning and somewhat surreal turn of events on 15 July was accentuated by rumors that Erdogan was seeking and had been denied exile in Germany at the same time he was on FaceTime inciting supporters to go out into the streets to fight for him. Slantchev (2006) suggests that a lack of major domestic audience costs is linked to how and from where the audience gets its information. The fact that the state controls much of the Turkish media might have therefore contributed to Erdogan’s ultimate triumph.

Uzonyi, Souva, and Golder (2012) echo the importance of domestic audience costs by examining whether a viable alternative leader is present and how high the cost of mobilization is against the existing regime.

Erdogan’s call to his supporters to break curfew, although horrifying for those of us watching from afar and imagining a bloodbath, was actually strategically very smart.  Carey, Colaresi, and Mitchell (2016) explain why.