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Use of Civilisational Populist Informal Law by Authoritarian Incumbents to Prolong Their Rule
journal contributionposted on 2022-11-24, 01:41 authored by Ihsan YilmazIhsan Yilmaz
Once voted into office, populist governments have often found undemocratic means to prolong their stay. The literature on populists in power is evolving and expanding. However, it has mainly focused on how the populists in power attack institutions such as the judiciary, rule erosion, and dirty institutionalism. How populists make use of the law and the judiciary to prolong their authoritarian rule remains an area that is under-researched. The populists’ use of informal institutions such as the unofficial law when in power has not been studied either. This paper addresses these gaps in the populism literature by studying Turkey’s Islamist populist ruling party’s use of informal law in prolonging its authoritarian rule. The paper argues that the Islamist civilisational populist AKP has been using informal Islamist law for both the legitimation of its rule and the repression of the opposition. It shows how the AKP officials, the state’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), the pro-AKP Sharia scholars, and other informal religious authorities employ the civilisational populist Islamist legal narrative to argue that according to Sharia it is obligatory to choose the side of the God that is represented by the AKP and to vote against the infidel opposition that is an existential danger to the pure Muslim people of Turkey and their religion. The paper combines and contributes to two theoretical strands. The first is civilisational populism, and the second is the informal institutions, with a focus on informal law and legal pluralism.