Turkey is a young country; roughly half of the population is under 30. Young people’s thoughts and feelings about power and politics are crucial in determining the winners and losers of elections in the present and the shape of politics in the future. This chapter examines three episodes in Turkey’s recent past to describe and analyze youth politics.
The first episode, based on a qualitative study conducted in Ankara, a few years after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, analyses how young people make sense of politics. It particularly focuses on two dominant narratives: nationalism and cynicism, which young people employ to make sense of power hierarchies, political exclusion, and Turkey’s troubles.
The second episode, the Gezi Protests in 2013, an unprecedented mobilization, represents both a new political imagination among youth and a critical turning point in the government’s youth agenda.
The final episode is the AKP’s youth politics in the 2010s, which analyses the party’s heightened concern about containing and co-opting young people – through coercion, indoctrination, and patronage.