The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 5, No 2 (2017)

‘The new but lonely voice against the authoritarianism’: humor and irony in Turkish political discourse after the Taksim Gezi Park Protests

Gunes Ekin Aksan


This study investigates the diffusion of a new political language based on humour and irony into Turkish politics. The Taksim Gezi Park Protests, in addition to introducing a new subject to Turkish politics, led to a new language that places humour at the centre. The Government’s neoliberal and authoritarian policies and tight control over traditional media shaped the resistance to be humoristic and indirect. People used alternative media to voice their dissent, mainly in the form of social media messages in addition to street performances, graffiti, videos and murals. This new wave of humour, which I prefer to call the “public square humour” emphasised creativity, improvisation and pluralism via the usage of traditional conversational humour mechanisms of the Turkish folk narratives. I investigate the effect of this new wave of humour on the professional politicians over the course of following years after the protests in an increasingly authoritarian political climate. I analyse the Twitter messages of four major party leaders and politicians who are active in Twitter, both qualitatively and quantitatively. With the methods of the discourse analysis I identify the political parties that embrace the new language of the political opposition. Finally, I conclude that Demirtas embraces the public square humour better and makes use of it to underline the transformation of HDP (People’s Democratic Party) from a defendant of ethnic politics to the representative of the new voice of Turkish political opposition.


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