The Relationship between Politics, Religion and Business
As we discussed in Chapter 2, the Turkish economy underwent a series of important changes after 1980. However, it was the devastating impact of the economic crisis of 2001 that made it clear that economic institutions and government-business relations had to be radically transformed. The AKP government came to power after the introduction of a series of reforms in the regulatory framework of the economy and declared its commitment to continue these reforms. It was generally accepted that the government's ability to influence private-sector activity would be limited and that the particularism that had previously characterized government-big business relations would no longer be possible. However, growing media coverage of many emerging business groups and their connections with the AKP government suggested that earlier political practices that supported processes of capital accumulation continued to operate. This chapter explores these processes by questioning whether the relations between the AKP government and the newly emerging business actors may be explained with reference to path dependency and reduced to a particular case of history repeating itself through socioeconomic transformation. We pursue this question by investigating the changing form of government intervention in the economy. We show that the change in strategy affected the sectors of economic activity where political factors are important as well as the mechanisms used by the government to influence the configuration of business interests.
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