Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeThematic issues34The Authoritarian State Form, Rec...

The Authoritarian State Form, Reconfiguration of Power Bloc, and the Growth Model in Turkey in the 21st century

Ali Rıza Güngen


This article analyzes the continuities and changes in state form, forms of regime, power bloc, and growth model of Turkey in the 21st century, using the analytical tools provided by critical state theory and research on financialization and growth models. I argue that there has been a reconfiguration of the power bloc in the 2010s, which symbolized the search for an alternative compared to the debt-led and domestic-demand-oriented growth pattern of the 2000s. However, these macroeconomic measures were unsystematic until the Covid-19 pandemic, and the state’s mechanisms to incorporate large social groups and tools to support capital accumulation mainly remained the same in the 2010s. Despite the reconfiguration of the power bloc and the search for a new growth model in the mid-to-late 2010s, I stress the continuation of the authoritarian state form in Turkey until the Covid-19 pandemic and conceive the transition to a new regime in the 2010s as a change in the form of regime.

Top of page

Full text

I would like to thank the editorial board of European Journal of Turkish Studies, anonymous reviewers and the issue editor Sinem Adar for their valuable comments and recommendations. I also would like to thank Galip Yalman, whose work and lectures introduced me to the state debate in 2002-03. Any remaining errors are my responsibility alone.


1In recent years, political scientists have become more interested in the characteristics of the Turkish state and the changing forms of state intervention in processes of capital accumulation. Since 2015, the Justice and Development Party (JDP) government has called for several elections and a referendum. The constitution was suspended, and the ruling party and the President completed the transition to a new political regime, which they referred to as the Presidential Government System. Parliament’s already limited powers were further diminished to make it an adjunct of the super-presidency under the new regime, officially completed following the 2018 elections.

2The new regime is generally agreed to be an electorally victorious, strong, one-person, authoritarian government based on nationalist-populist rhetoric (Bedirhanoğlu et al. 2020). However, there is disagreement regarding when the alleged authoritarian turn occurred. More specifically, despite the agreement among political scientists on the growing discretionary character of the JDP governments in the 2010s and the Erdogan administration, both the mechanisms and the outcomes of this transformation have been discussed using different terms. Moreover, because of the disciplinary boundaries of academic studies, political scientists' discussion of Turkish authoritarianism is mainly confined to a description of changing institutional configurations among the branches of government and how authoritarian populism erodes political representation mechanisms.

3In contrast, an interdisciplinary approach can provide more comprehensive and convincing explanations regarding how authoritarianism reproduced itself in Turkey for the last couple of decades and what stimulated the emergence of a new period within an authoritarian state form in the previous decade. In this paper, I explain the basic contours of a critical political economy approach to the state restructuring and periodization of Turkish authoritarianism in the 21st century. Using the analytical tools provided by critical state theory and research on financialization and growth models, I argue that the variegated reproduction of authoritarianism in Turkish politics and the political regime change against the background of deconstitutionalization in the 2010s should be related to crisis management strategies.

4This argument relies on a reinterpretation of conceptual frameworks, such as the form of state and form of regime. Nicos Poulantzas (1975) described state forms in the capitalist mode of production as differentiated arrangements of the capitalist state type. Forms of state correspond to particular configurations of power bloc and the state’s position vis-à-vis social classes simultaneously. However, forms of regime explain the representation mechanisms and concrete functioning of the political level. The concept of the power bloc, in Poulantzian terminology, denotes the unity of different fractions of capital and social groups, whereby some class fractions impose their leadership on others. The hegemonic fraction(s)’ strategies of accumulation determine the “unstable equilibrium of compromise” (Poulantzas 1975) within the power bloc, and its modification might result in a change in the form of state.

5In this paper, I use modified versions of Poulantzas’ concepts. Form of state symbolizes both the state-citizen nexus (how their relations are shaped via macroeconomic and social policies) and the state-capital nexus (how the state supports capital accumulation). A form of regime represents the institutional configuration of the state apparatus regarding the branches of government and representation mechanisms. Although the concept resembles the ‘forms of government’ or ‘political regime’ used in mainstream political science studies, the form of regime here operates within the form of a state matrix. Therefore, it also problematizes party systems and representations concerning the classes. Despite the revisions made in the definitions, I do agree with Poulantzas on the different rhythms of regime and state forms (Poulantzas 1975, see also Davies et al. 1976 for the use of these concepts for periodization). This means that a state form might maintain its basic characteristics, despite changing form of regime. Nevertheless, a form of regime change is not an isolated event and has repercussions that might ultimately contribute to modifying the form of state. I also insist on conceiving the deterioration of the leadership of the hegemonic fraction within a power bloc as a reconfiguration of the bloc, which does not necessarily extend to a change in the state form.

6I argue that there has been a reconfiguration of the power bloc in Turkey in the 2010s, which symbolized the search for an alternative compared to the debt-led and domestic-demand-oriented growth pattern of the 2000s, also implying limits of dependent financialization of the previous period. However, until the Covid-19 pandemic, the state’s mechanisms to incorporate large social groups and tools to support capital accumulation mainly remained the same, revealing attempts to maintain the unity of power bloc amid economic turbulence. For these reasons, it is not viable to suggest a change in the state form in Turkey in the late 2010s. Nevertheless, the Turkish case remains interesting for critical state theory-inspired research, as the period after 2013-2014 witnessed intensified struggles among different capital fractions, deconstitutionalization, and a political regime change. Whether a change in the state form will follow the change in the form of regime is unclear and cannot be predetermined beforehand.

7This study elaborates on and explains this argument in eight sections. Following this introduction, I demonstrate in broad strokes the different camps in the academic debate on Turkish authoritarianism in the 2010s. The third section further clarifies the perspectives employed in this study. I then explain the state form in Turkey in the 21st century. The fifth section presents data on the political-economic background of the recent shift within the growth model in the 2010s, and the sixth section discusses the power bloc reconfiguration. The seventh section revisits the form of regime in Turkey. Finally, the conclusion stresses the main arguments given and notes a caveat in research based on critical state theory.

Two Broad Camps of the Debate on Recent Turkish Authoritarianism

8By the mid-to-late 2010s, as a discretionary form of authoritarianism prevailed in Turkish politics, more research was conducted regarding the elements of this new politics and the transition to a new political regime. Although the JDP program and discourse in the early 21st century heavily emphasized the rule of law and human rights, it was possible, from a critical point of view, to characterize the 2000s as the continuation of the authoritarian form of state due to the suppression of labour. During this period, however, the EU candidacy and the possibility of elite consensus guarded the strength of scholarly expectations for democratization (see Özbudun 2006). Because of this expectation, as the hopes for democratic consolidation vanished and the first signs of deconstitutionalization became evident, many institutionalist and liberal political science analyses pointed out that the Turkish trajectory in the mid-2010s amounted to an authoritarian turn.

  • 1 In mainstream political science research, the term crony capitalism refers to the system in which “ (...)

9For the purposes of this paper, these studies can be categorized as composing the first broad camp in the recent authoritarianism debate. Describing the drastic events of 2010s Turkey with an attempt to classify the regime, studies in this camp emphasized the changes in representation mechanisms, the political-institutional configuration, and discursive shifts more than the capital accumulation modalities and conflicts between various classes and class fractions. Accordingly, the early to mid-2010s led to a new Turkish political regime reliant on crony capitalism.1 From this perspective, the mid-2010s were a turning point in the collapse of already troubled Turkish democracy and symbolized the rise of competitive authoritarianism (Özbudun 2015; Esen, Gümüşçü, 2016). Scholars embracing this approach who aim to integrate analyses of the political-economic transformation emphasize the persistent weakness of consensus-based policy-making and the legacy of patronage mechanisms. This body of literature also attributes the transition to a “new authoritarianism” (Somer 2016, see also Cengiz 2020) to deep-seated favouritism and cronyism under successive JDP governments.

  • 2 Tuğal (2022) critiques the state capitalism label as an overstatement of the move away from neolibe (...)

10Support for this perspective also comes from a loosely related line of international political economy approach regarding the EU’s limited transformative capacity (Öniş, Kutlay 2019). In its most elaborate form, the authoritarian turn argument is demonstrated via a framework that considers transformations in global capitalism as integral to the shift in Turkey’s foreign policy. The weakening of regulatory institutions has then been conceived as a facet of the emergence of state capitalism (Öniş 2019). Finally, new contributions to this stance tie the outcomes of cronyism with the emergence of new developmentalist ambitions and relate the ideational shift of Turkey’s ruling elite to the challenges presented to the liberal international order by state capitalisms, to which President Erdoğan aspires (Kutlay 2020).2

11As summarized above, the authoritarian turn argument does not entirely ignore the troubles of the Turkish political regime in the early 21st century. The central focal point in these analyses was the shift to an overtly authoritarian form in the last decade by emphasizing the change in the political regime. Accordingly, further strengthening of the executive branch, the ineffectiveness of the legislature, and the complete erosion of judicial supervision are documented with efforts to classify the new regime of the mid-to-late 2010s. More often than not, this is complemented through analyses of the political authority and documentation of critical junctures, but does not necessarily relate to factors changing other than the developments in the political sphere.

12It should also be noted that though the scholarly expectations for democratization predominated political analyses in the early 21st century, critical analyses have stressed authoritarian continuity. Discussing the Europeanization and democratization expectations in the early 21st century, Bedirhanoğlu and Yalman (2009), for instance, remind us that the JDP (AKP, if we use the Turkish abbreviation) had no intention of assuming a democratizing mission. On the contrary, against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, they expected that the neoliberal policy programme would decrease the possibility of progressive change and “the AKP represents more continuity than radical change in terms of the authoritarian form of state” (2009: 122). Similar interdisciplinary studies critiqued scholars highlighting possible democratization scenarios under the JDP rule. Analyses that conceived social policy reforms and local networks of cronyism in the first years of the JDP as vehicles for deriving support while maintaining the weakness of labour (Yıldırım 2009) stressed that despite the prevalence of procedural democracy, the political-economic decisions supported the strengthening of authoritarianism, as they actively suppressed labour organizations.

13Although a comprehensive discussion of the relations between different branches of the government in the early 21st century goes beyond the scope of the paper, various studies published before the authoritarianism debate of the late 2010s discussed how the JDP’s populism impacted the strengthening of the executive branch. For instance, Sözen (2011) pointed out that overcoming barriers that stood against the will of the people in Turkey during the JDP rule meant marginalizing any opposition to the ruling circles. In this perspective, neo-conservative populism and neoliberalism work together in deepening the gap between the ruled and the rulers inherent in representative democracy. While marginalizing Kemalist elites, the JDP’s populism in its first two terms paved the way for the aggrandizement of the executive branch and authoritarianism. In other words, Sözen (2011) reminds us that a political regime discussion focusing mainly on institutions and political discourse also detected the authoritarianism of the JDP rule.

  • 3 For many researchers, divisive political discourse and rising authoritarianism in the global North (...)

14Critical political economy analyses focus on the class-based nature of the state and emphasize the continuity of the authoritarian state form as much as the changes in the style of authoritarianism. In contrast to the first camp, the second denies that the mid-2010s mark a decisive break from the previous political phase. Instead, they claim that the authoritarian mode of governance dominated throughout the early 21st century. If the temporal division suggested by the first group can be considered, it is merely to locate these periods (the 2000s and 2010s) along a continuum, to trace the mechanisms underlying the increasingly re-politicized and discretionary interventions of the 2010s (Tansel 2018; Bozkurt-Güngen 2018; Akçay 2021). In short, for many critical scholars, JDP not only inherited an authoritarian regime but also kept its essential features. Thus, rather than a departure, there has been a continuation of the authoritarian neoliberal state form.3

  • 4 Other studies have stressed the change in the state form in the late 2010s. For example, Oğuz (2016 (...)

15Critical political economy studies of Turkish politics suggest a transformation in state-society relations, mainly through intensified authoritarianism (Table 1). Despite changes in specific measures under the JDP rule, some argue that they should be conceived as alterations symbolizing new couplings of coercion and consent manufacturing4 (Adaman, Akbulut 2021). Most studies conclude that changing global financial conditions and credit-led growth strategies since 2013 have triggered cyclical crises (Akçay, Güngen 2022). These have paralyzed JDP, intensified coercion, and provoked new authoritarian measures to contain the contradictions (Bedirhanoğlu 2021b). Most scholars in this group agree that JDP’s political battle in the early 21st century against the old elites did not lead to democratic reform of the authoritarian state (Akça 2014; Özden et al. 2017), which instead was the product of a historic transformation in the late 1970s and early 1980s (see also Yalman 2009).

Table 1: Sub-periods of the authoritarian state form in Turkey in the 21st century.

Table 1: Sub-periods of the authoritarian state form in Turkey in the 21st century.

16Despite the emphasis on continuity, it is also clear that there has been a critical rupture in the 2010s, i.e., the political regime changed, and a presidential system was established. Accordingly, for critical scholars, it remains necessary to explain the shift towards more discretionary measures in the 2010s and why a change in the form of regime emerged. Put simply, the exclusion of large social groups from meaningful participation in the policy-making process and the suppression of fundamental human rights continued throughout the first decade of the JDP rule. However, the state’s internal structure changed drastically in the second decade amid deconstitutionalization, intensified political pressure, and a state of emergency (Kaygusuz, Aydın 2020).

17In that sense, critical political economy studies might require a level of abstraction that enables the discussion of regime change while retaining the emphasis on authoritarian continuity. Revisiting Poulantzian concepts of form of state and form of regime, and deriving insights from critical state theory, help explain the authoritarian continuity and the political regime change, and how this inquiry is related to the accumulation modalities within a social formation.

Form of State and Form of Regime

18Critical scholars contributing to the state theory have attempted to characterize growing state control over socioeconomic life and the adjustment of internal state structures to global transformations in the last quarter of the 20th century. Criticizing structuralism and economic determinism, various scholars have pointed out the need to analyze the state and market as different forms of social relations of production (Bonefeld 2008). The state derivation debate of the 1970s (Holloway, Picciotto 1978) and its ramifications led to a class-struggle-prominent perspective, which its proponents called open Marxism (see Bonefeld et al. 1995). Other scholars have conducted more refined analyses of state restructurings with attention to political and institutional modes as determinate forms. This second line synthesizes state derivation insights with regulationist concepts (Hirsch 1995; Jessop 2007). The latter benefits from Nicos Poulantzas’ insights, while the former stresses “the crisis-ridden autonomization of capital from its substance” (Bonefeld 1995).

19The critical state debate of the late 20th century can be regarded as a search for a class-based analysis of historically specific forms of capital relation. I argue that two main theoretical insights from the state debate remain crucial: 1) A non-reductionist and relational approach to state refutes the ontological distinction between structure and struggle (Clarke 1991). 2) The state can be seen as a form assumed by class struggle, which develops on the basis of contradictory social relations of production. These insights remain in stark contrast with the structuralist terminology of early Poulantzas. Still, it should be taken into account that the later works of Poulantzas did already move in that direction, defining the state as the condensation of the balance of class forces (Poulantzas 1978).

  • 5 Poulantzas distinguishes between normal and exceptional state forms depending on the position and s (...)

20In his last book, Poulantzas (1978) also highlighted the strengthening of repressive state apparatuses and the concentration of power within the executive branch, and used ‘authoritarian statism’ to denote the decline of the democratic state form.5 According to him, authoritarian statism is characterized by a symbiosis between the erosion of standard representative mechanisms and the emergence of exceptional structures, in which the ruling political party, rather than playing an active role in the hegemonic struggle, starts to depict an ideological instrument and immerses itself in the state. The authoritarian state was becoming the new norm. As Poulantzas (1978: 208-9) states, authoritarian statism is “neither the new form of a genuine exceptional State nor, in itself, a transitional form on the road to such a State: it rather represents the new ‘democratic’ form of the bourgeois republic in the current phase of capitalism.”

21These insights suggest that further strengthening of the executive branch in some political geographies in the 21st century may have resulted from struggles and reconfigurations within an already authoritarian state form. In other words, while explicit political forms of authoritarianism in some geographies had been fostered in neoliberal democracies during the late 20th century and the early 21st century, authoritarian states of the same era may have already nurtured new forms of fascism or yielded hybrid forms in the same period. Poulantzas’ contribution suggests that this nurturing should be understood by analyzing the reconfiguration of power blocs. The state debate’s insights, however, are needed for a more open-ended analysis. Power bloc analysis requires an elaboration of the accumulation strategies. A dynamic account should always emphasize the contradictory nature of the social relations of production and how different forms are determined by class struggles, while deciding the course of those struggles simultaneously (see Bonefeld et al. 1995).

22As the “official resumé of the society" (Marx 1972 [1846]), the state does not represent a monolithic bloc. The capitalist state not only embodies the outcomes of social struggles, but also provides the terrain on which contradictions appear and fusions are created. Each fusion and transformation suggests new investigations, which explains the use of various concepts to describe variegated constellations. Nevertheless, understanding the state form and its inner workings is no mere intellectual exercise because “the state represents a compromise that makes the antagonistic classes carry out their conflicts in a particular way” (Demirovic 2011). That is, analysis of state forms remains crucial in studying societies.

23After revisiting Poulantzas via critical state debate, the state form can be described as having two main pillars: its institutionalized tools and perspectives that mold relations between the state and its citizens and its institutionalized means to support capital accumulation processes, which creates specific state interventions and strategies. An analysis of the form of state, therefore, relies on a discussion of the power bloc and how state intervention in capital accumulation developed from the political economy of the studied case. In this vein, the strategies adopted by the dominant classes and class fractions shape the terrain upon which the struggles within the established compromise occur.

24Power blocs are prone to changes over time. For example, many power blocs in the global South have embraced export-oriented and investment-based growth strategies promoted in the late 20th century to remedy the weaknesses of their economies. These growth models are crystallizations of accumulation strategies reflected in macroeconomic priorities and the contribution to the economic growth of components like demand, export, and investment (see Schedelik et al. 2021). However, there was a shift in some emerging economies at the turn of the century. Global financial circumstances and lower interest rates in the global North enabled major emerging countries to accumulate reserves while their domestic currencies appreciated. This shift was not uniform because capital fractions benefited differently from the global commodity boom, existing manufacturing capacity, and/or their positions within global value chains. Nevertheless, the upswing in the global financial cycle in the early 2000s stimulated both portfolio and foreign direct investment into the contemporary major economies of the global South. This enabled the consolidation of a demand-oriented and consumption-based growth model in some economies. A transition similar in significance can be observed in the aftermath of the international financial crisis of 2007-09 (Akçay et al. 2022; Mertens et al. 2022). Against the backdrop of changing global financial circumstances, internal displacements within the ruling blocs occurred in various countries and new forms of state intervention were foregrounded. In other words, the national and international crises in the last two decades have been significant determinants of power bloc reconfigurations. To what extent these configurations denote a change in a form of state depends on the case being analyzed.

25A form of regime signifies the class representation on the party-political level as much as the configuration among the branches of government. Despite the possible dissonance between changes in the form of state and the form of regime, a modification of hegemony might lead to displacements in state apparatus (Poulantzas 1973). Put briefly, the changing form of state might lead to a change in political regime. Through this lens, it is also possible to suggest that the form of regime changes might dramatically impact the struggles between various fractions in the power bloc and could contribute to the forthcoming change in state form. Therefore, this relation between forms of state and forms of regime is non-mechanistic and will depend on the concrete manifestation of power relations, which might be concealed by institutional configurations (Poulantzas 1973). It is not viable to suggest a correlation between regime change and change in the form of state, as such terminology confines the open-ended nature of political and class-based struggles to linearly related moves among variables. To clarify this point, a form of regime operates within a state matrix. For example, an authoritarian form of state is incompatible with a form of regime that narrows the gap between the ruled and the ruling elite by promoting direct democracy or by creating alternative means of political participation and a comprehensive system of checks and balances. However, a rupture in the regime form remains possible without any significant shifts in the state-citizen and state-capital nexuses. The strategies of political groups striving to change mechanisms of class representation and the relations between government branches will eventually reflect on the nexuses of the state form and might trigger new tensions and conflicts.

The State Form in Turkey in the First Decade of the JDP Rule

26This section sets out to explain the specific state form in Turkey in the 21st century. Following capital account liberalization in 1989, Turkey experienced a debt and currency crisis in 1994. The mix of a neoliberal policy orientation with short-term measures exacerbated high inflation. The country’s short-lived recovery ended amid the East Asian crisis and its financial contagion in the late 1990s. However, one of the most significant blows in the neoliberal period was the 2001 financial crisis. Though the banking sector restructuring started in 1997, it imposed a tremendous cost on the state budget after the crisis, reaching 25 percent of the annual GDP. Despite the economic bottleneck, global financial conditions allowed the government to reduce interest rates, which led to a quick recovery after 2003.

  • 6 Avcı (2021) maintains that the capitalist classes in Turkey can be divided into three fractions: na (...)

27Financial deepening in Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s did not result in a favourable shift for fixed capital formation (Yalman 2019). As in other global South countries, Turkish capital groups in the 1990s could not increase relative surplus production (Ercan, Oğuz 2020). The reform agenda of the 2000s was shaped in line with the post-Washington Consensus, hoping to attract more foreign investment to increase the economy’s competitiveness. Turkey’s economy recorded high growth rates from 2003 to 2008, enabling the newly elected JDP government to consolidate its support. At the same time, it also allowed the government to postpone tensions between large-scale internationalized capital groups6 benefiting disproportionately from its economic policy framework, on one hand, and newly internationalizing and medium-scale domestic-oriented capital groups organically related to the ruling circles, on the other. While the setback in Turkey’s economic growth during the 2008-2009 international financial crisis raised concerns, renewed foreign flows resulted in record growth rates in 2010 and 2011. The expansion of domestic demand was integrally linked with new credit opportunities for households in the 2000s (Karaçimen 2015). Although interest rates remained higher than in global North countries, household consumption, despite stagnating real wages, became easier and increased (Güngen 2018, 2021a).

28Turkey’s market-oriented development strategy was labeled as finance capitalism by researchers such as Marois (2012) to stress that the interests of financial capital were being fused into the state. The significance of restructuring the banking sector in the early 21st century resulted in the state having “developed unprecedented capacity to supervise and regulate financial capital while being able to socialize financial risks if and when necessary” (Marois 2012: 196). More important to our concern was the opportunity to address citizens’ demands via financial inclusion and increased social spending. The global financial conditions in the early 21st century, the newly restructured banking sector, and the state’s financial apparatus helped the JDP form a specific state-citizen nexus in this period. This nexus can be described as the "individualised incorporation of the labouring classes” (Bozkurt-Güngen 2018). Coding citizens as social assistance recipients and consumers has been an integral element of the JDP’s approach and this coding became a symbol of the technocratic tools and depoliticized perspective of authoritarianism in the first decade of the 21st century (Bozkurt-Güngen 2018).

29A second aspect complemented the above-mentioned first pillar of state form: The state’s institutionalized tools to support capital accumulation in the 2000s were based on adopting international best practices in monetary and fiscal policy to serve financial deepening (Güngen 2019a). During these years of reform and deepening, the monetary policies have followed an orthodox route to make financial assets denominated in the domestic currency more attractive. Currency appreciation has encouraged non-financial corporations and internationalizing capital groups to continue the foreign exchange borrowing spree. This inevitably has benefited competitive capital groups, which have occupied the hegemonic position within the power bloc.

30Various scholars have also portrayed this strategy as speculation-led growth (Orhangazi, Yeldan 2021) and financialization (Yalman et al. 2019). Financialization is the growing significance of financial transactions in capital accumulation (Epstein 2005). The rapid development of market-based finance in the global South during the early 21st century has been a symptom of global financialization, reintegrating these economies in a position that leaves them more vulnerable to changes in global financial circumstances. This also forms the background against which state restructurings occur. The dominant accumulation strategy in Turkey remained dependent on the inflow of foreign capital and external debt accumulation. Subordinating the tempo of capital accumulation to global financial circumstances, this economic policy preference resulted in the rapid transformation of some macroeconomic indicators; this transformation was also characterized as dependent financialization (Akçay, Güngen 2022).

31Dependent financialization refers to market-based transformations in the global South that have enabled financial deepening. The global South countries are integrated into the “hierarchical and structured capitalist system” (Isaacs, Kaltenbrunner 2018: 442) on unequal terms (Becker et al. 2010; Bonizzi et al. 2020). The fact that emerging economies have structurally higher interest rates than core capitalist countries reflects international monetary hierarchies (Fritz et al. 2018). Dependent financialization provides advantages to internationalized and internationalizing capital groups and finance capital. This can also be accepted (though not so enthusiastically) as a strategy by subordinate capital fractions producing for the domestic market. Since demand expansion followed the currency’s appreciation, sectors mainly selling their goods to the domestic market could adapt to this market, while asking for more state support and guarantees. Because this often leads to a booming economy against the background of heavy foreign investment and expansion of domestic demand, dependent financialization can work for various capital fractions so long as global financial circumstances remain loose (Akçay, Güngen 2022; cf. Deniz 2019).

32The primary elements of this strategy provide clues to grasping the power bloc configuration in Turkey in the first decade of the JDP rule. The power bloc in Turkey during this period was comprised of both internationalized and domestic-oriented capital groups as well as larger and smaller-scale producers. The dominant groups were internationalized capital groups and finance capital.

Crisis and Continuity in the State Form

33Turkey experienced a severe crisis in 2018-19, followed by the economic collapse during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, the fragilities already had become evident in the mid-2010s, pushing the economic policymakers to search for alternatives. Dependent financialization faced its limits and slowly drifted into a crisis in the mid-to-late 2010s. Nevertheless, the institutionalized tools that molded state-citizen nexus and the mechanisms used to support capital accumulation remained similar to the first decade of the JDP rule, with growing room for crisis management manoeuvres up until the 2020-21 changes in the macroeconomic policy framework.

34Table 2 presents a periodization of dependent financialization in Turkey based on a few stylized facts. The financial market depth and financial market capitalization ratio clearly indicate that dependent financialization reached its limits after 2013. The end of the expansionary phase of the global financial cycle and domestic currency depreciation during the post-2014 period made it harder for the private sector to roll over its accumulated debt. Nevertheless, the ratio of non-financial corporation debt to GDP continued to increase until 2018. In the most recent phase of dependent financialization (2014-19), the ratio of foreign financial flows to GDP continued to increase due to the rising importance of portfolio investment.

Table 2: Selected Macroeconomic Indicators of Financialization in Turkey (1989-2019).







Averages in phases

Foreign Financial Inflows

Financial market capitalization

NFC financialization

Household financialization

Financial Deepening

First year available-2002
































Stock of foreign liabilities (portfolio investment, FDI and other financial inflows, % of GDP)

Stock market value traded (% of GDP)

Non-financial corporations' debt (% of GDP)

Household debt (% of GDP)

Financial Depth Index

Data Source


World Bank




First Year Available






Indicators adapted from Karwowski, Stockhammer, 2017. See Akcay, Güngen, 2022

35The technocratic policy-making framework suffered its first blow during the 2008-2009 international financial crisis. The government’s primary response was to use the state’s public financial capacity to lend countercyclically. Accordingly, Turkish corporations borrowed heavily in foreign exchange from 2009 onwards, with Turkish banks serving as intermediary institutions (Becker 2016; Orhangazi, Yeldan 2021). In addition, mega infrastructure projects and comprehensive support for the construction sector were also short-run responses in order to boost capital accumulation in the following years.

36During the late 2010s, JDP governments frequently resorted to credit expansion to replicate the expansion in demand from the early 2000s. However, the lower yields of Turkish financial assets due to falling interest rates triggered capital flight. Therefore, policy-makers had to increase interest rates significantly in early 2014, late 2016, 2018, and 2020 to limit the depreciation of the Turkish lira. The resulting fluctuations in interest rates symbolized the difficulties of maintaining high growth rates amid increasing pressure from worsening global financial circumstances. Nevertheless, during this period, the expansion of state-sponsored credit mitigated the decline in annual growth rates. Even in 2017, for example, during the final stage of the slow drift towards the 2018-19 crisis, the GDP growth was still a remarkable 7.4 %, which showed the partial success of initiatives in boosting private demand.

37Table 3 below follows a similar periodization and summarizes the contributions to growth under the JDP rule. The data shows that private consumption has been the most significant driver of economic growth since the early 2000s. From a growth model perspective, Turkey’s growth has been demand-oriented (see Akçay et al. 2022). Since household indebtedness increased dramatically during the first two sub-periods while real wages stagnated in the 2000s and early 2010s, the model is also debt-led. Historic foreign direct investment levels in the early 2000s and the post-2001 domestic recovery turned investment into a significant part of the growth story from 2003 to 2008. However, its contribution declined rapidly in the second sub-period (presented in Table 3). In the last sub-period, the share of private consumption reflects the effectiveness of credit campaigns and renewed attempts to reduce interest rates.

Table 3: Relative contributions to GDP growth in Turkey (2003-2019).





Private consumption




Public consumption








Net exports




Source: World Bank Database, GDP in 2010 USD. I used gross capital formation data to calculate the contribution of investment. Data were extracted on May 24, 2021.

38Regarding its contribution to the growth, the retreat of investment in the final sub-period was partly compensated for by the growing contribution of exports. While the currency depreciation of the last sub-period certainly advantaged exporting industries, the rising contribution of exports to the GDP (despite a negative contribution in some turbulent months) reflects the continuity of export credits and state support to new exporters. Net exports as a percentage of the GDP increased from -1.5 percent (i.e., reducing growth) in 2014 to 4.1 percent in 2019 (World Bank Database). This substantial jump indicates that growth in the last sub-period was domestic-demand-based, with a weak but growing export contribution.

  • 7 Examples of off-balance-sheet policy making in Turkey used to socialize financial risks include the (...)

39The data presented in Table 3 should be approached after considering the limits of dependent financialization and the crisis in the Turkish economy (2018-19). This is suggestive of the institutionalized means to support capital accumulation changing only slightly between 2003 and 2019. In the last sub-period, the attempts to limit the interest rate increases and hardwiring public banks to credit expansion reflected the desire to stimulate domestic demand and renew growth cycles. These interventions and the insistence on demand stimulation in a situation of tightening global financial conditions trapped the economy in boom-bust cycles for several years, creating insurmountable dilemmas for the power bloc. It pushed state managers to search for new combinations and pursue off-balance-sheet policy-making7 (Güngen 2021c). Successive JDP governments and the Erdoğan presidential administration have all used new discretionary forms of policy-making while also repeatedly reversing policies to maintain the unity of the power bloc during cyclical crises.

40Concerning the two main pillars of the state form, it is possible to suggest that the state form remained the same, despite the preparations for a new macroeconomic policy framework, increased state activism, and discretionary policy interventions. The state continued to address its citizens as credit consumers. At the same time, the limits of dependent financialization and the struggles within the power bloc forced a transition to a different macroeconomic policy framework, which was finally implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reconfiguration of the Power Bloc in Turkey

41Internationalized capital groups were the predominant fraction of the power bloc in Turkey during the early 21st century (see Deniz 2019 for a ruling elite discussion). In line with Hoşgör (2016) I refrain from clustering capital groups based on geographic origin and ideological avenues and suggest, instead, that analytical demarcations can be drawn by citing strategies, scales, and sectoral concentration. The dominant fraction of the early 21st century, which is mostly organized through the Turkish Industry and Business Organization (TÜSİAD), has partnerships in key sectors and state tenders with internationalizing and national (domestic-oriented) capital groups, yet remains relatively concentrated in finance and manufacturing sectors with large-scale enterprises. Internationalizing capital groups are late-comers, which has increased their shares in the export volume in recent decades but are still concentrated in relatively more labour-intensive sectors. Many of these late-comers have benefited from the booming demand and form of integration concerning the world economy starting from the late 20th century, but has also profited from the heavy exploitation of labour and state incentives under the JDP governments. These groups also have invested in tourism, construction and retail sectors. The Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association provided the main venue for the organization of these groups (even though some successful internationalizing companies are now becoming members of TÜSİAD).

42The unstable equilibrium of compromise between those groups was disrupted beginning in the early 2010s. Various erratic measures in the late 2010s and during the first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic were indeed organically related to the need to handle the crisis and search for a new policy framework and accumulation strategy. The Turkish state has implemented new incentive programmes since the mid-2010s onwards. The aim was to increase the tempo of the transition to high value-added and high-tech production. These interventions have not been part of a developmental plan, disciplining capital groups and re-orienting their investment under the state guidance in the late 2010s. The growth contribution ratios reveal that Turkey’s erratic developmentalist interventions have not changed the growth model of the 2014-19 period but have led to increased exports.

43Economic governance continued in crisis mode almost without interruption from 2018 to 2022. This was due to the 2018-19 crisis, followed by the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, characterized by similar capital outflows from the global South to the 2008-2009 crisis (Güngen 2021b). Even though the responses to both the 2018-2019 crisis and the 2020 slump aimed to lock the economy into dependent financialization, the growth model was not tenable, and the dead-end faced by the Erdoğan administration strengthened the search for a new growth model.

  • 8 In the Turkish context, an orthodox macroeconomic response refers tight monetary policy pursued by (...)

44The roots of the new policy framework adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic can be traced back to the search for alternatives in the 2010s and reflected itself in the monetary policy shift (ultimately determining exchange rate) and the state’s primary tools to support capital accumulation in the mid-to-late 2010s. These transformations can also be grasped as reflecting the reconfiguration of the power bloc, which remained shy of a change in the form of state in the 2010s. Higher interest rates (compared to 2009-2013) undermined the political alliance and the unity of the ruling elite in the mid-to-late 2010s. In particular, capital groups with more capital-intensive production and accumulated foreign exchange debt requested an orthodox response,8 whereas domestic-oriented capital groups and representatives of sectors like construction opposed a conventional macroeconomic program. Although higher interest rates and the resulting austerity would have produced stability, it would also wipe out some smaller-scale producers with more labour-intensive production. It would also encourage rapid concentration of capital among the subcontractors of large-scale capital groups.

  • 9 For a discussion of crony practices under the JDP rule and Erdoğan administration, see Bedirhanoğlu (...)

45In short, high growth was the fundamental pillar of the early 2000s power bloc. However, in the mid-to-late 2010s, this pillar gradually collapsed: core supporters of Erdoğan and the JDP government needed lower interest rates and a loose monetary policy, whereas big business groups favoured price stability and orthodox policies. Turkey’s dependent financialization provided large-scale capital groups with opportunities for 'differential accumulation’ (see Nitzan, Bichler 2009). During the reconfiguration of the power bloc in the 2014-2019 sub-period, however, state managers prioritized the demands of new and would-be exporters, JDP-connected capital groups that feed on state resources and the capital groups in labour-intensive sectors. This orientation has not revealed a consistent character until the 2020-21 transition to the macroeconomic framework, promoted as the ‘new economic model’.9

46Table 4 summarizes Turkey’s growth pattern and the power bloc reconfiguration in the 21st century. The controversial contemporary macroeconomic policies and the more discretionary form of policy-making (such as the state of emergency and decisions taken under the new presidential regime after the 2018 transition) do not by themselves reveal a transition to a new growth model in the late 2010s. It seems viable to suggest that tensions between the different capital fractions of the power bloc were not yet resolved during these time frames. Nevertheless, the capital groups that benefited from domestic credit channels and incentives gradually gained more ground over the last sub-period (2014-19).

Table 4: The Growth Regimes and Power Bloc in Turkey in the 21st century.


21st Century


Growth regime

> Domestic demand-led growth
regime (until 2008-09) and
debt-led private demand and
growth regime (from 2009 onwards, but there is a search for a new growth model after 2014)

> Export-led growth strategy emergent in the last sub-period, unsystematic attempts to move onto a new growth regime

Power bloc

> Comprising internationalized large-scale capital and domestic-oriented small and medium scale capital

> Reconfiguration of power bloc, groups that feed on state resources, new and would-be exporters gaining ground

> Changes in global financial circumstances, bust episodes and crises brewing tensions

> Crisis-management, contradictory macroeconomic policy to maintain the widest bloc possible

47The new strategies of accumulation, which took on a more consistent character during the Covid-19 pandemic (especially after late 2021) emerged from several factors. Newly employed Syrian refugees boosted labour-intensive sectors in some parts of Turkey. At the same time, the loss of its reserves further eroded the CB’s interventional capacity to prevent or at least to slow currency depreciation. While there has been a return to export orientation due to economic turbulence and the advance of newly internationalizing groups, this strategy has several contradictions and causes further tensions: The capital owners of corporations producing food products, beverages, and manufacturing textiles, wearing apparel, leather products, and furniture might be more advantageous with a depreciated domestic currency. In contrast, because of the accumulated foreign exchange debt, manufacturers of metal products, other non-metallic products and chemicals, and chemical products (sectors dominated by already internationalized large-scale capital groups) have been negatively affected by currency depreciation (see Uğurlu 2021).

48If the reconfiguration of the power bloc finally results in a shift of the state-citizen and state-capital nexuses, the signs of which crystallized in the aftermath of the 2018-19 crisis and, more particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, the authoritarian neoliberal state form will have transformed into a new state form. As implied by critical state theory, this process is ridden with contradictions and is not predetermined. Still, the new macroeconomic policy framework meeting the demands of strengthening capital fractions points to the growing possibility of a change in the Turkish state form.

The Form of Regime Revisited

49Despite the reconfiguration of the power bloc and economic turbulence paving the way for crisis management interventions, a scholarly attempt to periodize the state form must emphasize its continuity in Turkey in the 2010s due to the similarity between the state-citizen nexus and state-capital nexus during the 2010s and the early 21st century. There was, however, a significant rupture on a political level, which further diminished the role of the legislative branch and altered the notion of representation. This modification has taken place in the form of regime. The institutional configuration of the government branches changed in the mid-to-late 2010s resulting in a transition to a regime referred to as a Presidential Government System by official circles.

  • 10 Poulantzas’ conceptualization creates new problems from pinpointing bourgeois representative forms (...)

50The Presidential Government System attempts to legitimize the recent deconstitutionalization of Turkish politics, which can be traced back to 2014 when the newly elected President Erdoğan did not resign from the party membership for 13 days despite the constitutional requirement. The curfews in the months following the electoral limbo of 2015, the lift of parliamentary immunity of some opposition (primarily Kurdish) MPs through a provisional amendment in 2016, and the state of emergency rule in 2016-2018 with emergency decrees, which violated the constitution, were among the significant steps of deconstitutionalization in Turkey (Kaygusuz, Aydın 2020). Given that dissidents have been subject to judicial investigations ordered by the executive branch, while citizens lacked fundamental human rights, many scholars who use authoritarian statism and authoritarian neoliberalism point out a change in the state form, suggesting the emergence of an "exceptional state."10 form (ibid., see also Karahanoğulları, Türk 2018).

51The proponents of this argument find supporting evidence from the byzantine structure of the new regime, which places the presidency at the center. Still, some of the features cited in these studies mainly refer to the form of regime, not the form of state. The new regime can be characterized by the total subordination of the judiciary to the executive, yet this is purposefully done to strengthen the President’s supreme power. What differentiates such a political regime from a fascist one is that the political party (previously the ruling party) has been relegated (Yılmaz 2020). At the same time, a disorganized opposition continues to exist. President Erdogan claims to symbolize and embody the state. Meanwhile, legitimizing political repression requires frequent plebiscites and the erosion of intermediary groups from political life (Yılmaz 2020).

52The decretismo of the state of emergency is maintained through presidential decrees, which have predominantly focused on executive affairs since 2018 (in line with Article 104 of the revised 1982 Constitution). During the Covid-19 pandemic, the exercise of fundamental rights has been regulated and constrained by directives reminiscent of unconstitutional decrees during the state of emergency that were overextended to breach fundamental human rights and ordinary regulations unrelated to the state of emergency (see Akça et al. 2018). This legal-political complex, in which emergency practices appear normal, has blurred the boundaries between the ordinary and the exceptional.

  • 11 The term “organic crisis” was used by Antonio Gramsci to separate structural crises from cyclical o (...)

53In short, the organic crisis11 of the Turkish state in the 2010s has increased the likelihood of a change in the state form more than in the last four decades, and yet has resulted in a regime change (from restricted parliamentarism to the super presidential regime in 2018). Not only the JDP circles’, but also President Erdoğan’s political survival depended on further centralization of political power using deconstitutionalization as leverage. Erdoğan’s call for a new constitution in his opening presidential speech to parliament in 2021, including various symbols suggesting the President’s powers will go beyond overt coercion into dictatorial might be read as moves towards a different form of state. Whether the change in the form of regime will have contributed to a change in the state form is not clear and cannot be predetermined beforehand. Still, the Presidential Government System in its current structure might fit into a new form of state incorporating citizens via new mechanisms, and could support capital accumulation via new tools.

  • 12 I read Balaban’s (2021) call to incorporate social class and industrial relations into Turkish poli (...)

54The conflation of the form of regime and the form of state in some critical political economy studies stems from the conspicuous absence of an analysis of growth models, accumulation strategies, and the position of labor in those scholarly endeavours.12 The loss of support for the struggling growth model in recent years has indicated a possible strong shift away from neoliberalism. It has triggered moves towards a new form of authoritarianism or perhaps quasi-fascism. However, the emergence of a new state form depends on which steps will be taken in the interests of the power bloc (or specific capital fractions) regarding the state’s incorporation of large groups and state policies to support capital accumulation. The recent deconstitutionalization or political regime change might or might not contribute to such a transformation. This depends on class struggles and the foregrounded strategies. For example, the insistence by the dominant fractions in the power bloc on a model that prioritizes the competitiveness of exporting firms may encourage further suppression of labor and deterioration of real wages on the one hand, and provision of new loans to and direct intervention in allegedly strategic sectors on the other. If such policies gain a systematic presence and rely on a new macroeconomic framework (such as the one implemented from late 2021 onwards), this specific state-capital nexus will be different from the one in the early 21st century. It is too soon to tell whether the change in the form of regime will contribute to such a change or whether it will culminate in reinforcing the style of authoritarianism similar to the early 21st century after the 2023 plebiscite (officially entitled the presidential and parliamentary elections).


55While regime changes, the level of state activism, and crises in growth models do not by themselves determine the state form, they do affect the likelihood of change by dramatically altering the manoeuvres of political actors and capital fractions. While regime modifications can indicate looming changes in authoritarian statecraft, they are not automatic extensions or precedents of the implementation of a new state form. Similarly, in the Turkish case, the crisis of the demand-oriented growth model did not bring about an entirely new growth model (until the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic).

56In this paper, I have discussed the form of state, the forms of regime, and the power bloc in Turkey in the 21st century. I have emphasized that, in the early 21st century, dependent financialization assumed a new form in which financial institutions targeted household revenues, while currency appreciation benefited international and internationalizing capital groups that were heavily importing intermediary goods. The new form of dependent financialization also yielded demand-oriented growth, easing tensions within the power bloc. However, the limits of financialization became evident in the 2010s due to changing global financial circumstances. Moreover, this period coincided with the attempts of previously subordinated capital fractions of the power bloc to avoid returning to orthodox macroeconomic policies (see footnote 9). Therefore, some scholars of Turkish politics see the political-economic developments of the last decade as a move away from neoliberalism or even an emergence of a version of state capitalism.

57However, data on the major growth components and their contribution to GDP do not support a narrative of radical transformation until the late 2010s and the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, the data and the macroeconomic policy framework suggest a gradual transformation, with an erratic style and more discretionary forms coming to the foreground in the mid-to-late 2010s. This has been directly related to the slow drift of the Turkish economy into crisis while the JDP attempted to maintain the unity of the power bloc. Studies of state form have helped emphasize the continuities within an economic geography despite short-term political upheavals and changes. I have argued that, through a non-deterministic reading, it is possible to explain discretionary economic policymaking and increased state activism as reflecting the struggles within the power bloc. However, the developmental interventions in this period have been unsystematic, so a new growth model only started to emerge during the Covid-19 pandemic. Describing the state form in Turkey in the 2010s as authoritarian and neoliberal does not avoid the discussion of tensions within the power bloc and possible emerging shifts in the growth model and accumulation strategies. On the contrary, it helps to explain why the growth benefits of the Turkish economy have not been fairly distributed and why coercion (both overt and disguised) against political dissidents is an integral part of the unstable equilibrium of compromise within the power bloc and between capital fractions and the large groups within the society.

58The move towards a new growth model in Turkey in 2020-21 may create favourable conditions for consolidating regime change and deconstitutionalization, leading to a change in the state form if it further alters the means to support capital accumulation. Yet, it might also be followed by a reversal in economic policies and/or deepening tensions among the power bloc components. This uncertainty also hints at the limits of critical state theory and research on power blocs. Avoiding politicism and overcoming disciplinary boundaries require analyses of the patterns of state intervention concerning the crystallization of interests and pursued strategies. However, the recurrent international financial volatility, wars, disasters such as the climate crisis, and health crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic continue to push state managers more and more toward short-term pragmatism and unsystematic measures across the globe, making periodization more complex. Still, even if akin to looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, an interdisciplinary approach should continue benefiting from other fields of inquiry to deepen relational and critical research on state restructurings and regime changes.

Top of page


Adaman, Fikret; Akbulut, Bengi (2021) ‘Erdoğan’s Three-Pillared Neoliberalism: Authoritarianism, Populism and Developmentalism,’ Geoforum; Journal of Physical, Human, and Regional Geosciences 124, pp. 279-289.

Akça, İsmet (2014). ‘Hegemonic Projects in Post-1980 Turkey and the Changing Forms of Authoritarianism,’ in Akça, İsmet; Bekmen, Ahmet; Özden, Barış Alp (eds.), Turkey Reframed: Constituting Neoliberal Hegemony, London, Pluto, pp. 13-47.

Akça, İsmet; Algül, Süreyya; Dinçer, Hülya; Keleşoglu, Erhan; Özde Barış Alp (2018). When the State of Emergency Becomes the Norm: The Impact of Executive Degrees on Turkish Legislation, Istanbul, Heinrich Böll Stiftung.

Akçay, Ümit (2021). ‘Authoritarian Consolidation Dynamics in Turkey,’ Contemporary Politics 27 (1), pp. 79-104.

Akcay, Ümit; Güngen, Ali Rıza (2019). ‘The Making of Turkey’s 2018-2019 Economic Crisis,’ Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE) Working Paper No 120/2019.

Akcay, Ümit; Güngen, Ali Rıza (2022). ‘Dependent Financialization and Its Limits: The Case of Turkey,’ Cambridge Journal of Economics 46 (2), pp. 293-316.

Akçay, Ümit; Eckhard, Hein; Jungmann, Benjamin (2022). ‘Financialisation and Macroeconomic Regimes in the Emerging Capitalist Countries Before and After the Great Recession,’ International Journal of Political Economy 51 (2), pp. 77-100.

Avcı, Akif (2021). ‘The New Regime of Free Trade and Transnational Capital in Turkey,’ Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, advance online publication, DOI: 10.1080/19448953.2021.1992184

Balaban, Utku (2021). ‘The Islamist-Secularist Coalition and Social Class in Turkey,’ Social Research: An International Quarterly 88 (2), pp. 271-297.

Becker, Joachim (2016). ‘Financialization, Industry and Dependency in Turkey,’ Journal Für Entwicklungspolitik 32 (1/2), pp. 84-113.

Becker, Joachim; Jager, Johannes; Leubolt, Bernhard; Weissenbacher, Ruby (2010). ‘Peripheral Financialisation and Vulnerability to Crisis: A Regulationist Perspective,’ Competition and Change 14 (3-4), pp. 225-247.

Bedirhanoğlu, Pınar (2021a). ‘Cronyism Through Financialization: Turkey’s Neoliberal Transformation from Özal to Erdoğan’, Social Research: An International Quarterly 88 (2), pp. 359-379.

Bedirhanoğlu, Pınar (2021b). ‘Global Class Constitution of The AKP’s “Authoritarian Turn” by Neoliberal Financialization,’ in Babacan, Errol; Kutun, Melehat; Yılmaz, Zafer; Pınar, Ezgi (eds.), Regime Change in Turkey: Neoliberal Authoritarianism, Islamism and Hegemony, London-New York, Routledge, pp. 68-85.

Bedirhanoğlu, Pınar; Yalman, Galip (2009). ‘State, Class and Discourse: Reflections on the Neoliberal Transformation in Turkey,’ in Saad-Filho, Alfredo; Yalman, Galip (eds.), Economic Transitions to Neoliberalisms in Middle-Income Countries: Policy Dilemmas, Crises and Mass Resistance, London, Routledge, pp. 107-128.

Bedirhanoğlu, Pınar; Dölek, Çağlar; Hülagü, Funda; Kaygusuz, Özlem (eds) (2020). Turkey’s New State in the Making: Transformations in Legality, Economy and Coercion, London, Zed Books.

Boffo, Marco; Saad-Filho, Alfredo; Fine, Ben (2019). ‘Neoliberal Capitalism: Authoritarian Turn,’ in Panitch, Leo; Albo, Greg (eds.), Socialist Register 2019: A World Turned Upside Down, London, Merlin, pp. 247-271.

Bonefeld, Werner (1995). ‘Capital as Subject and the Existence of Labour,’ in Bonefeld, Werner; Gunn, Richard; Holloway, John; Psychopedis, Kosmas (eds.), Open Marxism Volume III: Emancipating Marx, London, Pluto, pp. 182-212.

Bonefeld, Werner (2008). ‘Global Capital, National State, and the International,’ Critique 36 (1), pp. 63-72.

Bonefeld, Werner; Gunn, Richard; Psychopedis, Kosmas (eds.) (1995). Open Marxism Volume I: Dialectics and History, London, Pluto.

Bonizzi, Bruno; Kaltenbrunner, Annina; Powell Jeff (2020). ‘Subordinate Financialisation in Emerging Capitalist Economies,’ in Mader, Philip; Mertens, Daniel; van der Zwan, Natascha (eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization, London, Routledge, pp. 177-188.

Bozkurt-Güngen, Sümercan (2018). ‘Labour and Authoritarian Neoliberalism: Changes and Continuities under the AKP Governments in Turkey,’ South European Society and Politics 23 (2), pp. 219-238.

Bruff, Ian (2014). ‘The Rise of Authoritarian Neoliberalism,’ Rethinking Marxism 26 (1), pp. 113-129.

Candeias, Mario (2011). ‘Organic Crisis and Capitalist Transformation’, World Review of Political Economy 2 (1), pp. 48-65.

Cengiz, Fatih Çağatay (2020). ‘Proliferation of Neopatrimonial Domination in Turkey,’ British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 47 (4), pp. 507-525.

Clarke, Simon (1991). ‘The State Debate,’ in Clarke, Simon (ed.), The State Debate, Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 1-69.

Davies, Robert; Kaplan, David; Morris, Mike; O'Meara, Dan (1976). ‘Class Struggle and the Periodisation of the State in South Africa,’ Review of African Political Economy 3 (7), pp. 4-30.

Demirovic, Alex (2011). ‘Materialist State Theory and the Transnationalization of the Capitalist State,’ Antipode 43 (1), pp. 38-59.

Deniz, Mehmet Baki (2019). Who Rules Turkey Between 1980 and 2008? Business Power and the Rise of Authoritarian Populism, Ph. D. Dissertation, Graduate School of State University of New York, Binghamton.

Ercan, Fuat; Oğuz, Şebnem (2020). ‘Understanding the Recent Rise of Authoritarianism in Turkey in Terms of the Structural Contradictions of the Process of Capital Accumulation,’ in Bedirhanoğlu, Pınar; Dölek, Çağlar; Hülagü, Funda; Kaygusuz, Özlem (eds.), Turkey’s New State in the Making: Transformations in Legality, Economy and Coercion, London, Zed, pp. 97-118.

Epstein, Gerald (2005). ‘Introduction: Financialization and the World Economy,’ in Epstein, G. (ed.), Financialization and the World Economy, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

Esen, Berk; Gümüşçü, Şebnem (2016). ‘Rising Competitive Authoritarianism in Turkey,’ Third World Quarterly 37 (9), pp. 1581-1606.

Fritz, Barbara; Luiz, Paula; Magalhaes Prates, Daniela (2018). ‘Global Currency Hierarchy and National Policy Space: A Framework for Peripheral Economies,’ European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies 15 (2), pp. 208-218.

Güngen, Ali Rıza (2018). ‘Financial Inclusion and Policy Making: Strategy, Campaigns and Microcredit a la Turca,’ New Political Economy 23 (3), pp. 331-347.

Güngen, Ali Rıza (2019a). ‘The Neoliberal Emergence of Market Finance in Turkey,’ in Yalman, Galip; Marois, Thomas; Güngen, Ali Rıza (eds.), The Political Economy of Financial Transformation in Turkey, London, Routledge, pp. 162-184.

Güngen, Ali Rıza (2019b). ‘Turkey’s Authoritarianism and Crisis Management’ (August 26, 2019), Public Seminar. URL:

Güngen, Ali Rıza (2021a). Borçlandırma Siyaseti: Türkiye’de Finansal İçerilme, Istanbul, İletişim.

Güngen, Ali Rıza (2021b). “Turkey’s Economy Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic: Measures and Their Impacts”, in Balcı, Bayram; Bourmaud, Phillippe; Kaya, Sümbül (eds.), Analyses pluridisciplinaires sur la crise sanitaire COVID-19 en Turquie, Istanbul, Institut français d'études anatoliennes, pp. 157-168.

Güngen, Ali Rıza (2021c). ‘Bitmeyen Kriz ve Merkez Bankası Tartışması’ (April 2, 2021) gazeteduvaR, URL:

Hirsch, Joachim (1995). ‘Nation-state, International Regulation and the Question of Democracy,’ Review of International Political Economy 2 (2), pp. 267-284.

Holloway, John; Picciotto, Sol (1978). ‘Introduction: Towards a Materialist Theory of the State,’ in Holloway, John; Picciotto, Sol (eds.), State and Capital: A Marxist Debate, London, Edward Arnold, pp. 1-32.

Hoşgör, Evren (2016). 'New Fragmentations and New Alliances in the Turkish Bourgeoisie,’ Journal fur Entwicklungspolitik XXXII (1/2), pp. 114-134.

Isaacs, Gilad; Kaltenbrunne, Annina (2018). ‘Financialization and Liberalization: South Africa’s New Forms of External Vulnerability, Competition and Change 22 (4), pp. 437-463.

Jessop, Bob (1982). The Capitalist State: Marxist Theories and Methods, New York, New York University.

Jessop, Bob (2007). State Power: A Strategic-Relational Approach, Cambridge, Polity.

Jessop, Bob (2015). ‘Political Capitalism, Economic and Political Crises, and Authoritarian Statism,’ Spectrum: Journal of Global Studies 7 (1), pp. 1-18.

Karaçimen, Elif (2015). ‘Interlinkages Between Credit, Debt and The Labour Market: Evidence from Turkey,’ Cambridge Journal of Economics 39 (3), pp. 751-767.

Karahanoğulları, Yiğit; Türk, Duygu (2018). ‘Otoriter Devletçilik, Neoliberalizm, Türkiye,’ Mülkiye 42 (3), pp. 403-448.

Karwowski, Ewa; Stockhammer, Engelbert (2017). ‘Financialisation in Emerging Economies: A Systematic Overview and Comparison with Anglo-Saxon Economies,’ Economic and Political Studies 5 (1), pp. 60-86.

Kaygusuz, Özlem; Aydın, Oya (2020). ‘Deconstitutionalization and the State Crisis in Turkey: The Role of the Turkish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights,’ Bedirhanoğlu, Pınar; Dölek, Çağlar; Hülagü, Funda; Kaygusuz, Özlem (eds.), Turkey’s New State in the Making: Transformations in Legality, Economy and Coercion, London, Zed, pp. 41-64.

Kutlay, Mustafa (2020). ‘The Politics of State Capitalism in a Post-Liberal International Order: The Case of Turkey,’ Third World Quarterly 41 (4), pp. 683-706.

Malik, Adeel; Atiyas, Izak; Diwan, Ishac (2019). ‘Introduction: Crony Capitalism in the Middle East – What Do We Know and Why Does It Matter?’ in Diwan, Ishac; Malik, Adeel; Atiyas, Izak (eds.), Crony Capitalism in the Middle East: Business and Politics from Liberalization to the Arab Spring, Oxford, Oxford University, pp. 1-38.

Marois, Thomas (2012). States, Banks and Crisis: Emerging Finance Capitalism in Mexico and Turkey, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.

Marx, Karl (1972 [1846]). ‘Society and Economy in History,’ in Tucker, Robert (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader, New York, Norton, pp. 136-142.

Marx, Karl (1996 [1867]). Capital, Vol I, in Marx, Karl, Collected Works, London, Lawrence and Wishart.

Mertens, Daniel; Nölke, Andreas; May, Christian; Schedelik, Michael; ten Brink, Tobias; Gomes, Alexandre (2022). ‘Moving the Centre: Adapting the Toolbox of Growth Model Research to Emerging Capitalist Economies,’ Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE) Working Paper, No 188/2022.

Nitzan, Jonathan; Bichler, Shimshon (2009). Capital as Power: A Study of Order and Creorder, London, Routledge.

Oğuz, Şebnem. (2016). ‘Yeni Türkiye’nin Siyasal Rejimi,’ in Tören, Tolga; Kutun, Melehat (eds.), Yeni Türkiye’de Kapitalizm, Devlet ve Sınıflar, Istanbul, SAV, pp. 81-127.

Öniş, Ziya (2019). ‘Turkey under the Challenge of State Capitalism: The Political Economy of the Late AKP Era,’ Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 19 (2), pp. 201-225.

Öniş, Ziya, Kutlay, Mustafa (2019). ‘Global Shifts and the Limits of the EU’s Transformative Power in the European Periphery: Comparative Perspectives from Hungary and Turkey,’ Government and Opposition 71 (2), pp. 226-253.

Orhangazi, Özgür; Yeldan, Erinç (2021). ‘Re-Making of the Turkish Crisis,’ Development and Change 52 (3), pp. 460-503.

Özbudun, Ergun (2006). ‘From Political Islam to Conservative Democracy: The Case of Justice and Development Party in Turkey,’ South European Society and Politics 11 (3-4), pp. 543-557.

Özbudun, Ergun (2015). ‘Turkey’s Judiciary and the Drift Toward Competitive Authoritarianism,’ Italian Journal of International Affairs 50 (2), pp. 42-55.

Özden, Barış Alp; Akça, İsmet; Bekmen, Ahmet (2017). ‘Antinomies of Authoritarian Neoliberalism in Turkey the Justice and Development Party Era,’ in Tansel, Cemal Burak (ed.), States of Discipline. Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order, London, Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 189-209.

Poulantzas, Nicos (1973). ‘On Social Classes,’ New Left Review I/78 (March-April 1973).

Poulantzas, Nicos (1975). Political Power and Social Classes, London, New Left (2nd ed.).

Poulantzas, Nicos (1978). State, Power, Socialism, London, Verso.

Robinson, William (2005). ‘Gramsci and Globalisation: From Nation State to Transnational Hegemony,’ Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 8 (4), pp. 559-574.

Savran, Sungur (2016). “Faşizm mi Rabiizm mi?”, Devrimci Marksizm 27, pp. 19-69.

Schedelik, Michael; Nölke, Andreas; Mertens, Daniel; May, Christian (2021). ‘Comparative Capitalism, Growth Models and Emerging Markets: The Development of the Field,’ New Political Economy 26 (4), pp. 514-526.

Somer, Murat (2016). ‘Understanding Turkey’s Democratic Breakdown: Old vs. New and Indigenous vs. Global Authoritarianism,’ Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 16 (4), pp. 481-503.

Sözen, Yunus (2011). ‘AKP ve Bir Otoriterleşme İdeolojisi Olarak Neo-Muhafazakar Popülizm,’ Yeniyol 43, pp. 7-23.

Tansel, Cemal Burak (2017). ‘Authoritarian Neoliberalism: Towards a New Research Agenda,’ in Tansel, Cemal Burak (ed.), States of Discipline. Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order, London, Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 1-29.

Tansel, Cemal Burak (2018). ‘Authoritarian Neoliberalism and Democratic Backsliding in Turkey: Beyond the Narratives of Progress,’ South European Society and Politics 23 (2), pp. 197-217.

Tuğal, Cihan (2022). ‘Politicized Megaprojects and Public Sector Interventions: Mass Consent Under Neoliberal Statism,’ Critical Sociology, Advance online publication,

Uğurlu, Esra Nur (2021). ‘Döviz Kuru Politikalarının Ekonomi Politiği,’ Çalışma ve Toplum 2021/4, pp. 2955-2978.

Wigger, Angela (2019). ‘The New EU Industrial Policy: Authoritarian Neoliberal Structural Adjustment and the Case for Alternatives,’ Globalizations 16 (3), pp. 353-369.

Yalman, Galip (2009). Transition to Neoliberalism: The Case of Turkey in the 1980s, Istanbul, Bilgi University.

Yalman, Galip (2019). ‘The Neoliberal Transformation of State and Market in Turkey: An Overview of Financial Developments from 1980 to 2000,’ in Yalman, Galip; Marois, Thomas; Güngen, Ali Rıza (eds.), The Political Economy of Financial Transformation in Turkey, London, Routledge, pp. 51-88.

Yalman, Galip; Marois Thomas; Güngen, Ali Rıza (eds.) (2019). The Political Economy of Financial Transformation in Turkey, London, Routledge.

Yıldırım, Deniz (2009). ‘AKP ve Neoliberal Popülizm,’ in Uzgel, İlhan; Duru, Bülent (eds.), AKP Kitabı: Bir Dönüşümün Bilançosu, Ankara, Phoenix, pp. 66-107.

Yılmaz, Zafer (2020). ‘Erdoğan’s Presidential Regime and Strategic Legalism: Turkish Democracy in the Twilight Zone,’ Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 20 (2), pp. 265-287.

Top of page


1 In mainstream political science research, the term crony capitalism refers to the system in which “politically connected actors manage to extract economic advantage to their firms, and the consequences of these privileges on economic growth and job creation” (Malik et al. 2019: 6)

2 Tuğal (2022) critiques the state capitalism label as an overstatement of the move away from neoliberalism in Turkey and suggests ‘neoliberal statism’ instead. I consider this term an early attempt to describe the emergent state-capital nexus in the country, but more illuminating than state capitalism.

3 For many researchers, divisive political discourse and rising authoritarianism in the global North signal the emergence of a new state form, authoritarian neoliberalism, since the 2007-2009 international financial crisis. Many analyses associate the displacement of technocratic policy-making and the consequences of further political alienation of the masses with a reactionary response to crises within neoliberalism (see Boffo et al. 2019, also Bruff 2014). From that perspective, the analytical value of the concept of authoritarian neoliberalism resides in its portrayal of the shift in the 2010s in the global North towards a personalistic, ultra-nationalist and misogynist political discourse benefitting from mass disengagement in Europe and the United States. In more specific uses, however, authoritarian neoliberalism denotes the further insulation of economic policymaking from large societal segments (Wigger 2019), prompting further curtailment of political democracy. Attempts to unpack the repertoires of authoritarian neoliberalism in other political geographies have shown that the practices and tools of neoliberal governments were eroding democratic politics long before the recent rise of authoritarianism in the 2010s, though not all processes of neoliberalization are supported by authoritarian state power (see Tansel 2017).

4 Other studies have stressed the change in the state form in the late 2010s. For example, Oğuz (2016) suggests that these transformations should be seen as the emergence of an exceptional form, specifically a fascist state, while Savran (2016) describes the protracted formation of a new repressive structure as proto-fascist or rabiist.

5 Poulantzas distinguishes between normal and exceptional state forms depending on the position and strength of institutionalized popular representation mechanisms. His framework also differentiates between regime configurations in terms of the dominant state apparatus (for a short interpretation of normal states and exceptional regimes, see Jessop 2015). I do not delve into scholarly reinterpretations of Poulantzian concepts as this goes beyond the scope of this paper. However, the paper takes a more open-ended approach to Poulantzian concepts to avoid politicism and structuralism.

6 Avcı (2021) maintains that the capitalist classes in Turkey can be divided into three fractions: national, internationally oriented, and transnational. In this study, I describe companies that produce in different geographies, sell their products to various countries, and borrow easily in international financial markets as internationalized capital rather than transnational.

7 Examples of off-balance-sheet policy making in Turkey used to socialize financial risks include the Credit Guarantee Fund in the 2010s and the duty losses mechanism. Here, the ultimate intervention costs depend on the severity of the crisis and future events. The foreign exchange interventions and money swaps that added US dollars to the CB’s international reserves, albeit temporarily in 2019-2020, were also instances of similar risk-snowballing, which postponed the cost. In off-balance-sheet policy-making, the objectives of economic intervention are not debated in democratic bodies and the policies are not implemented accountably. Weeks or months after the materialization of costs, scholars can access data, and the public learns about these interventions’ failures and ‘successes.’

8 In the Turkish context, an orthodox macroeconomic response refers tight monetary policy pursued by the Central Bank and lower levels of public expenditure accompanied by market-friendly structural reforms and expectations for higher levels of foreign direct investment. For the orthodox policies in the early 21st century and further financial deepening in Turkey, see Yalman et al. 2019.

9 For a discussion of crony practices under the JDP rule and Erdoğan administration, see Bedirhanoğlu 2021a. For a discussion on how JDP-connected capital groups benefit from the political economy perspective dominant among JDP cadres in recent years, see Tuğal 2022.

10 Poulantzas’ conceptualization creates new problems from pinpointing bourgeois representative forms as the ‘normal’ form of the capitalist state. In his last years, however, he also described authoritarian statism as the new normal. He was also among those scholars who highlighted the duplication of the state, which allowed supposedly normal representative mechanisms and exceptional structures to form a symbiotic relationship. Given that this formation is the core of authoritarian statism, this state form includes the elements of other exceptional state forms like fascism.

11 The term “organic crisis” was used by Antonio Gramsci to separate structural crises from cyclical ones. In organic crises, structural factors (arising from the form of integration into the world economy) are accompanied by crises of legitimacy and hegemony (Candeias 2011; Robinson 2005). Organic crises cannot be overcome by minor changes. Discontent among the masses grows and struggles within the power bloc are joined by searches for new accumulation strategies. Organic crises create an environment prone to change in the state form.

12 I read Balaban’s (2021) call to incorporate social class and industrial relations into Turkish politics analyses as a reminder pointing out the same problem.

Top of page

List of illustrations

Title Table 1: Sub-periods of the authoritarian state form in Turkey in the 21st century.
File image/jpeg, 138k
Top of page


Electronic reference

Ali Rıza Güngen, The Authoritarian State Form, Reconfiguration of Power Bloc, and the Growth Model in Turkey in the 21st centuryEuropean Journal of Turkish Studies [Online], 34 | 2022, Online since 30 June 2023, connection on 23 September 2023. URL:; DOI:

Top of page

About the author

Ali Rıza Güngen

Visiting Scholar at York University and Instructor at Simon Fraser University ORCID:

Top of page



Creative Commons - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International - CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Top of page
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search