Incumbent mobilization of swing voters: voter-party linkages and consolidation of ethnic votes in Istanbul
Arıkan Akdağ, Gül (2013) Incumbent mobilization of swing voters: voter-party linkages and consolidation of ethnic votes in Istanbul. [Thesis]
This dissertation attempts to understand the mobilization strategies of incumbent parties to consolidate and increase their support among swing voters of an ethnic group. By analyzing the strategy of AKP on voters of Kurdish origin before 2011 general elections, it investigates the effectiveness of the clientelistic distribution of municipal resources in increasing support for the party and the conditions under which the party mobilizes these voters through clientelistic linkage. This investigation is conducted through a district and neighborhood level case study selected on the method of most similar cases in the districts of Beyoğlu, Sancaktepe and Beykoz situated in Istanbul. The main hypotheses are tested through five different steps. First, through the electoral results it identifies a large number of voters of Kurdish origin as ideologically close to pro-Islamist and pro-Kurdish parties. Second, it identifies the main organs responsible of mobilizing voters and defines the nature of the clientelistic network. Third, the study suggests that the incorporation of these voters into the party’s clientelistic network is a function of the number and time of entry of activists of Kurdish origin in the party’s ranks and the intensity of their contacts with the voters. Fourth, through an analysis of the selected neighborhoods it reveals the effectiveness of clientelistic mobilization in consolidating and increasing support among swing voters of Kurdish origin. Lastly, the inner party organization and critical juncture experienced by the party are argued to be influential in its ability to increase its network through the incorporation of new activists.
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