An illiberal inclusion? The AKP’s politics of exceptional citizenship

Serdar A.

TURKISH STUDIES, vol.24, no.3, pp.51-74, 2023 (SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14683849.2022.2100699
  • Journal Name: TURKISH STUDIES
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.51-74
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In the last several years, the AKP government in Turkey has granted exceptional citizenship to more than 200,000 Syrian refugees and 19,000 foreign investors, mostly from the Middle East. This study defines the AKP’s recent policy of granting exceptional citizenship as an illiberal inclusion, which is a mode of neoliberal and particularistic inclusion without extending the eligibility and rights of regular migrants and refugees. By means of exceptional citizenship, the AKP transforms the politics of granting particularistic access to Turkish citizenship, from one characterized by an ethno-religious inclusion towards another defined by more explicit religious inclusion entangled with its neo-Ottomanist domestic and foreign policy goals. The study also suggests that the current state of granting exceptional citizenship is intermingled with the AKP’s authoritarian neoliberalism, and the structural centralization of executive power under the current presidential system.