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Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey: The Paradox of Moderation

by Güneş Murat Tezcür (2010)

CoverModeration theory describes the process through which radical political actors develop commitments to electoral competition, political pluralism, human rights, and rule of law and come to prefer negotiation, reconciliation, and electoral politics over provocation, confrontation, and contentious action. Revisiting this theory through an examination of two of the most prominent moderate Islamic political forces in recent history, Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey analyzes the gains made and methods implemented by the Reform Front in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Justice and Development Party in Turkey.

Both of these groups represent Muslim reformers who came into continual conflict with unelected adversaries who attempted to block their reformist agendas. Based on extensive field research in both locales, Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey argues that behavioral moderation as practiced by these groups may actually inhibit democratic progress. Political scientist Güneş Murat Tezcür observes that the ability to implement conciliatory tactics, organize electoral parties, and make political compromises impeded democracy when pursued by the Reform Front and the Justice and Development Party. Challenging conventional wisdom, Tezcür's findings have broad implications for the dynamics of democratic progress.

Güneş Murat Tezcür is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago.

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