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Het geheime wapen van de Turkse democratie

OXFORD – De recente mislukte couppoging in Turkije onderstreept de voortdurende kwetsbaarheid van het land voor een militaire machtsovername. Maar zij heeft ook een nieuw – en zeer krachtig – voordeel aan het licht gebracht, dat de buurlanden van Turkije ook moeten proberen te cultiveren: een sterke middenklasse die bereid en in staat is in het geweer te komen tegen extremistische dreigingen. De vraag die nu voorligt voor Turkije is of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dit voordeel zal weten uit te buiten. Voor het bredere Midden-Oosten luidt de vraag hoe een middenklasse moet worden opgebouwd die de stabiliteit kan waarborgen.

Toen drommen burgers in het midden van de nacht in Istanboel de straat op gingen, in een poging de militaire coupplegers de weg te versperren, was dat een krachtige tentoonspreiding van collectieve volkswil – die de belangstelling van iedere politieke leider zou moeten wekken, vooral van degenen die proberen hun landen te ontwikkelen. De analyses van de coup benadrukten de rivaliteiten binnen de Turkse elite, en wezen op de tekortkomingen van Erdoğan (wat er zeker veel zijn). Maar er is weinig gezegd over de structurele verschuivingen in de Turkse politieke economie waardoor de middenklassen van het land, die de electorale basis van Erdoğans Rechtvaardigheids- en Ontwikkelingspartij (AKP) vormen, macht hebben verkregen.

De afgelopen twee decennia heeft Turkije opmerkelijke economische vooruitgang geboekt, en zichzelf getransformeerd van de zieke man van Europa in een van de meest vitale Europese economieën en een nieuw middelpunt in het Midden-Oosten. Cruciaal voor deze ontwikkeling zijn de investeringen in infrastructuur geweest, naast de steun voor middelgrote bedrijven, de expansie van de regionale handel en de ontwikkeling van de toeristische sector.

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