Social democratic populist party and the transformation of the Turkish left: an unfinished dream
Esen, Berk (2005) Social democratic populist party and the transformation of the Turkish left: an unfinished dream. [Thesis]
One of the primary debates in Turkish political science literature is the surprisingly weak and rigid character of the center-left parties which caused social democracy to become a generic name for a progressive political culture and attitude instead of a fully-fledged ideology. This is more clearly seen when Turkish mainstream left parties are juxtaposed to their European counterparts. This is mainly an epistemological problem that revolves around the question of whether Turkish mainstream left ideology is compatible with the universal norms of social democracy. The aim of this study is to examine the roots and parameters of the inability of Social Democratic Populist Party to reformulate its static organizational body in accordance with societal demands and reinvigorate its ideology and political programme to better address the contemporary problems. A comprehensive analysis of the intra-party debates that occurred in this period is conducted by linking them with the important developments in the Turkish political landscape to detect epistemological causes of the question at hand. The ideological crisis of Turkish social democracy during the early 1990s is thoroughly discussed to get a full account of the intra-party attempts for renewal and understand why they have failed. The study has revealed that the failure of the SDPP leadership to more closely adopt the universal norms of social democracy is closely tied to the demise of statism that restrained the organizational structure and mission of the party, the crisis of Turkish modernity that distanced the party administration from the constituent groups and decline of Kemalism that challenged the ideological framework of Turkish center-left.
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