No Bourgeoisie, No Moderation: The Changing Face of Political Islam on Turkey and Egypt

Orhan, Sebnem Gumuscu, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Echeverri-Gent, John, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

Under what conditions do Islamists accept the principles of democracy and perceive democracy as "the only game in town"? Current literature which emphasizes institutions, political learning and repression fail to give a satisfying answer to this question. This thesis argues that it is important to study the internal divisions within the Islamist movements and the balance of power among them if we are to understand why and when they embrace ideological moderation. Along these lines, I suggest that factors which disturb the balance of power to the favor of the moderate Islamists are critical to understand the causes of moderation. The support that different factions garner from the constituency is a determining factor in the course of political Islam. This support for moderates or hardliners in return depends on the interests of different groups that make up the Islamist coalition. Studying the empirical puzzle posed by the experiences of Turkish and Egyptian Islamists I argue that economic reform programs in these countries redefine the interests of the components of the Islamist coalition while redistributing power among them. As a result of this process a devout bourgeoisie ready to ally with the moderates emerge in Turkey while lower middle classes with ideological dispositions dominate the Islamist constituency in Egypt and support the hardliners. That is why Turkish Islamists succeeded in carrying out a large - scale moderation which led to the marginalization of the radicals while their Egyptian counterparts failed and became marginalized themselves.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: