Aytug Sasmaz

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Source: Nationally representative survey of 2,500 Turkish adults, March 2019. Figure: Tarek Masoud and Aytug Sasmaz

This month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconsecrated the Hagia Sophia — a UNESCO world heritage site and museum — as a house of Muslim worship. To Erdogan’s many opponents, this looks like the latest move in a long-running attempt to undo Turkish secularism. The president’s supporters dismiss this interpretation, portraying the whole thing as a purely domestic, even mundane, legal matter. But Erdogan himself has hinted at something much more expansive. In a recent speech, he declared that the “resurrection of Hagia Sophia” represents “the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come out of the interregnum,” and the “reignition of the fire of hope of not just Muslims, but … of all the oppressed, wronged, downtrodden and exploited.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A supporter, right, of an independent local party distributes election leaflets in l’Ariana, outside Tunis, 0n May 4. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

On May 6, Tunisia held its first democratic local elections more than seven years after the collapse of the authoritarian regime. While these elections signify an important step for local governance, the intense period of candidate recruitment that preceded them also offers a unique window into party decision-making.

During the two months before the elections, I conducted more than 40 interviews with party leaders at the national and local level and candidates from partisan and independent lists to explore how they recruited candidates. The results hint at why some parties and lists garnered more votes and how politics may be changing.…  Seguir leyendo »