New Capitalism in Turkey
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New Capitalism in Turkey

The Relationship between Politics, Religion and Business

Ayşe Buğra and Osman Savaşkan

New Capitalism in Turkey explores the changing relationship between politics, religion and business through an analysis of the contemporary Turkish business environment.
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Chapter 5: Polarization at the local level

Ayşe Buğra and Osman Savaşkan


During AKP rule, the Turkish political environment was marked by intense social polarization and the government's increasing intolerance of political dissent and opposition groups. Beginning in the mid-2000s, the NGOs that objected to the increasing religious conservatism in society - namely, the labor unions that were vocal critics of the government's neoliberal policy orientation as well as municipal governments run by opposition parties - faced snap inspections and court actions. Some of the charges pertained to irregular economic practices, but some of the targeted individuals also risked trial for political crimes in courts with special prerogatives created in 2004. The business community was also affected by these developments, and the rival social projects endorsed by different business associations, as discussed in Chapter 4, formed an integral component of the polarized society. We have already mentioned how the tax inspection system and the massive tax penalty issued to media tycoon and businessman Ayd_n Do_an led to the dismantling of his media empire and an overall limitation of critical journalism in Turkey. We also discussed threats and attempts at intimidation by ruling politicians, particularly the prime minister, directed at the big business association T‹S_AD. At a later stage, the leadership of TOBB also became a target of government hostility, and inspectors began to visit different TOBB-affiliated organizations for both commercial and non-commercial ventures. Even before these developments, the relations between the AKP government and TOBB were less than harmonious.

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