Indonesia and Turkey together make up almost one fifth of the world’s Muslim population. Both countries were hailed as models for democratization for several years until recent developments called that process into question. In Indonesia, oligarchic networks and growing religious intolerance have hollowed out democracy. In Turkey, observers identify various phases of the authoritarianisation process.

From a comparative and transnational perspective, this research project explores how the cooperation and competition among religious, economic, and political elites have driven the current democratic stagnation and/or decline. What varying understandings of democracy underpin the current developments in and assessments of the recent political systems in Indonesia and Turkey?

The analysis focuses on religious and political authorities, especially in education and urban development. Using interviews, ethnography, and media analysis, the project will make sense of the simultaneous trends of privatization and increased public spending and show how they factor in the reconfigurations of the two nation states. The project bridges the gap between area studies and political science, and brings new perspectives to the still Western-centric literature on the much discussed “crisis” of liberal democracy.