Foreign Policy Making in the Age of Populism: The Uses of Anti-Westernism in Turkish Politics

Oğuzhan Göksel


Many foreign policy analysts portray leaders as “chief negotiators” responsible for delicately sustaining a balancing act between the interests of their domestic constituents and the wishes of extra-national actors (e.g. other governments, international organisations, multinational companies). This depiction may accurately explain the behaviour of decision-makers in liberal democratic societies, but foreign policy making function differently in illiberal populist polities. This article argues that contemporary Turkey constitutes an illiberal populist regime where foreign policy making is subjugated to domestic policy concerns, and an assertive anti-Western foreign policy rhetoric is often systematically employed to generate public support to the incumbent AKP (Justice and Development Party) administration. Using the AKP’s 2017 Constitutional Referendum campaign as a case study, I suggest that anti-Westernism is an effective discourse to garner domestic support under illiberal populism.   


Foreign Policy Analysis; Two-Level Games; Innenpolitik Approach; Illiberal Populism; Anti-Westernism; Turkish Foreign Policy; Turkey; Germany; The Netherlands

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ISSN: 2051-0861