Does ideology matter? Turkish public opinion and government in action
Kalaycıoğlu, Ersin Does ideology matter? Turkish public opinion and government in action. In: Middle East Studies Association’s Annual Meeting 2009, Boston, Mass., U.S.A. (Submitted)
Recent research findings by Binnaz Toprak have unearthed that social conformity have reached a level of intolerance in several Anatolian cities, where right-wing nationalists and religious vigilantes make life miserable for those who seem to lead liberal or non-traditional life styles. Similar research conducted by Carkoglu, and Yilmaz, have also documented that the voters have gone through a re-alignment and shifted their attitudes toward increasing levels of conservatism and Sunni Islamism in the recent decades. Such a shift should have deep running influences on the attitudes and demands of the public from the governments and a corresponding change of policies should be expected to materialize. We have little if any research that focus on the nexus between the state of mind (ideology) of the Turkish voters and their policy expectations from the government, on the one hand, and the government policies, on the other. This paper focuses on the relationship between the positions of the voters on the left – right spectrum and related ideological stances on conservatism, secularism versus Sunni religiosity, étatism versus liberal market economy, and the like and their policy expectations on economic, health, education and other social welfare issues from the government at the time of the 2007 general elections. The data for the paper were collected through a pre-election national representative survey during June and July 2007. The findings of the paper show how the rightward shift of public opinion in Turkey influenced policy expectations of the voters and also engendered the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to follow certain economic, and social welfare policies, on the one hand, and how the attitudes of the voters have failed to make an impact on other policy areas. This paper also demonstrates the limits of the political influence of the voters on elected governments in the Turkish case.
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