State and Anti-System Party Interactions in Turkey and Lebanon: Implications for European Policy

March 2009


This paper assesses the feasibility of applying the concepts of securitization and de-securitization in understanding state and anti-system party interactions in Turkey and Lebanon. It aims to contribute to the debates on different formats and methods of state interaction with anti-system parties (i.e. the parties that exert a radical form of opposition politically) and their implications for the “securitization of policies” in the Mediterranean by analysing two case-studies. The first is Turkey, where Kurdish politics, driven out of the legitimate boundaries of the political system, emerges as an issue of security. The second case is Lebanon, where the Shiites’ impending need for political participation, combined with Hezbollah’s lingering armed status, creates a widening sectarian rift and crisis of legitimacy, thus securitizing Lebanese politics. State actors’ securitization of policies strengthens the state’s “security-first logic”. Anti-system politics, on the other hand, has its own style of securitization: it uses securitization to mobilize support among its constituency and the international community. Yet in both cases presented, such securitization narrows the limits of ‘normal politics’ and negatively influences other political processes like democratization, citizenship, and political reforms.

The problems here addressed, which emerge from the interaction among state and anti-system actors, become regional issues with wide-reaching effects for regional and international politics. Yet the policy recommendations proposed in this study are specifically directed at European policy-makers, in recognition of the EU’s indispensible role as an external actor in enhancing or diminishing this securitization trend.

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