Fragile but resilient? Turkish electoral dynamics 2002 – 2015
Kalaycıoğlu, Ersin and Çarkoğlu, Ali (2021) Fragile but resilient? Turkish electoral dynamics 2002 – 2015. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan . ISBN 978-0-472-13243-0 (Print) 978-0-472-12867-9 (Online)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/mpub.3684928
This book is the product of roughly two decades of survey research, conducted jointly since November 2002 before and after each general election in Turkey by Ali Çarkoğlu, Koç University, and Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Sabanci University. Previously, several research projects had been conducted by other colleagues on Turkish general elections, beginning with Üstün Ergüder and Selçuk Özgediz of Boğaziçi University for the 1977 general elections in the country. However, no long-term, systematic effort using the same research design existed before our efforts in the 2000s. From the start, we had the vision of repeatedly using comparable survey instruments over the coming years. As readers of this book will observe, we were able to mostly use the same questions, asked in the same order, over five consecutive general elections. The data collected through these field surveys of randomly selected representative samples of the Turkish voting-age population provided insights and observations not only into their immediate past voting behavior, but into most other aspects of popular politics in Turkey. Interestingly enough, the data-collection process coincided with the increased pace of democratization of Turkey between 2002 and 2010, and also the country’s increasingly steep democratic backsliding after the September 12, 2010, referendum and the June 12, 2011, general elections, which reached a critical turning point with the November 1, 2015, repeat or snap elections. Since the November 1, 2015, general elections, Turkey has failed to conduct a free and fair popular vote, either a referendum or a general election. The April 16, 2017, referendum was conducted under the draconian measures of emergency rule (olağanüstü hal—OHAL), when free expression, civil liberties, and media and press freedoms were severely curbed. The opposition was not permitted to air their views on the constitutional amendments that ended the semi-presidential system of the country. The new administration eventually turned into a form of sultanistic regime, with an absolutist, nonaccountable executive presidency, in which the elected president continued to be the leader of a political party, and as the leader of the largest party group in the legislature controlled the legislative branch of the government as well. Thanks to the earlier referendum of September 12, 2010, the executive branch of the government made the decisions about hiring, promoting, and firing the country’s prosecutors and judges. Thus, the president became the sole political authority in charge and controlled the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government. The June 24, 2018, elections were again held under the OHAL measures, which provided only minimal opportunities for the political opposition to campaign through the media and the press, including social media, or to freely organize rallies, demonstrations, and meetings. Therefore, the 2018 general elections were hardly contested as free and fair elections. However, a majority of the public continued to consider Turkey a democracy due to the sheer existence of multiparty politics. Citizens’ chance to vote was enough to satisfy their expectations of a responsive government that would continue to provide clientelistic political patronage for their benefit. Our book covers the evolution of voting behavior during a dramatic period; a democratizing country that was starting negotiations to join the European Union had by 2015 and later become a faltering democracy. The data collected through field surveys of nationally representative samples of the Turkish voting-age population show how voters shifted their ideological positions and allegiances over the evolution of the twenty-first-century Turkish politics. Our analyses illustrate how voters followed their perceived interests and benefits in a highly partisan milieu.
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