Research

This project problematizes the temporal dimension of clientelistic linkages. The main puzzle in this research relates to alternative outcomes of long-term clientelistic linkages. Previous literature suggests that the main expected outcome of clientelistic interactions is political support from the party’s perspective. A continuous interaction implies a party organization which is able to distribute goods and services and mobilize voters over long periods. While the extant literature suggests that the voters receive goods so that they support the party in a politically important period (e.g. elections, rallies etc.) I argue that this is an oversimplified expectation which disregards the long-term processes and outcomes of receiving a non-programmatic benefit. Instead, I empirically show that voters also approximate the party line in the long run and their policy preferences and evaluations are affected by clientelism. In other words, the relationship between ideology and clientelism is much more complicated than we assume.

An initial book chapter based on tentative results was recently published. Click here to access this chapter. I am currently revising the book manuscript. For two articles that relate to this book manuscript and recently came out of my dissertation research, see the two articles on clientelism below.

Incumbent parties are often able to control state resources in ways that allow them to garner support in a clientelistic fashion. When regulatory institutions cannot restrain the incumbent’s discretionary control over these resources, monopolistic control can give these parties a major political advantage. Focusing on clientelistic strategies employed by Turkey’s ruling AK Party in comparison to opposition parties, this paper discusses mechanisms through which the incumbent party garners advantages through clientelism. While doing so, it presents evidence from an original fieldwork conducted in an Istanbul neighbourhood.

This article explains the varieties of clientelistic vote exchange in contemporary electoral democracies. It distinguishes two commonly recognized modes of exchange according to their capacity to overcome the problem of opportunism – relational clientelism and spot-market “vote buying” clientelism – and relates them to attributes along which clientelistic varieties have been distinguished. It develops a metric of clientelistic profile differences that characterize parties’ choices of clientelistic strategies and advances hypotheses about the conditions under which parties pursue different strategies. Drawing on an 88 country/506 party expert survey of clientelistic practices, more relational politics thrives in middle-income countries with simultaneously more programmatic competition. But there is also intra-country variance according to party capabilities: Parties with more formal organizational reach, slight less reliance on external local notables, and government incumbency deploy more relational clientelism, net of parties’ electoral size or ethnocultural base. Even once all of these differences are accounted for, parties in Sub-Saharan Africa rely more on spot-market clientelism than those of any other global region. Unmeasured variables – such as state capacity and party institutionalization, as well as the persistence of traditional tribe-based modes of social coordination that endow polities with order and stability may account for the more ephemeral character of clientelism in this region.

How do press-party parallelism dynamics unfold in media systems that experience competitive authoritarianism? We analyze the content of news coverage of political parties across four consecutive national election campaigns in Turkey (2002, 2007, 2011, and 2015) to track changes in press-party parallelism. We explore three dimensions of press-party parallelism in order to study its dynamics: visibility of political parties, the effective number of parties represented in newspapers, and lastly, favorability toward political parties. First, within each campaign cycle, as election day approaches, visibility of the incumbent party increases while the visibility of other parties tends to decline. Likewise, the incumbent party’s visibility increases across the four elections we study. Second, for all newspaper groups, the number of parties that receive favorable or unfavorable coverage declines over consecutive election terms. Third, the incumbent party is the only that gains in terms of positive coverage within and across each election campaign period. Taken together, we show evidence for press-party parallelism dynamics in a competitive authoritarian country.

The aim of this article is to examine press-party parallelism during the 2011 national elections in Turkey. The article reports findings from a content analysis of 9,127 news articles and editorial columns from fifteen newspapers regarding the trajectory of press-party parallelism over the course of the twelve-week national elections campaign period. We focus on two indicators of press-party parallelism: (1) respective “voice” given to the two leading parties, calculated as the ratio of news that quoted sources from the incumbent Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) to the leading opposition party Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP) and (2) news articles’ tones toward AKP and CHP. The findings suggest that over the course of the election campaign, internal pluralism in both conservative and opposition papers declined in terms of voice given to respective parties and tone of news coverage.

Based on a quantitative meta-analysis of empirical studies, this article points out a significant flaw in the Three Worlds of Welfare literature, the “variable selection problem.” Compiling, classifying, and quantitatively analysing all variables that have been employed in this literature, the article shows first that variable selection has depended more on case selection than on theory. Scholars tend to employ variables based on data availability, rather than selecting variables according to theoretical frameworks. Second, the use of welfare policy variables is mostly limited to the analysis of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, while studies analysing non-OECD countries, where data is limited, tend to use developmental outcome variables as a proxy. This tendency harms conceptualization and operationalization of welfare regimes, as well as blur the boundary between development and welfare regimes studies. Third, the use of original Esping-Andersen variables remains very limited, undermining continuity, comparability, and reliability within the literature.

Turkey has been rocked by an election storm. In less than two years since March 2014, the country has had four elections, the most recent taking place on November 1st, 2015. The ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AK Party) won three consecutive elections in 2002, 2007 and 2011 by continuously increasing its vote share from about 34 percent to nearly 50 percent; in doing so it became a rare example of a predominant party in a competitive democracy.1 Following the local and presidential elections in March and August 2014, the AK Party incurred its first significant electoral loss in June 2015, leading to a parliamentary outlook that did not allow for the formation of any government. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan eventually took the decision to hold early or “repeat” elections which eventually led the AK Party to recover its losses in November 2015.

The gender gap in national and local politics is an important problem in numerous countries. Two explanations for the deficit experienced by female politicians relate to demand for women’s representation by political parties and by voters. We argue that the gender gap stems from party-based limitations in local politics. Women do not compete in local politics because relevant parties do not nominate them. We present original data on mayoral candidates who ran in the 2009 and 2014 Turkish local elections. Our findings show that women are less likely to be nominated for office and reasons for this gap originate from party choices rather than lack of electoral support for women.

To explain the changes and continuities in the geographic patterns of the 2018 elections, we present ballot-box and district level data from 2018 and previous elections. We refer to long-term ideological/cultural Differences as well as short-term evaluations about security and the economy in shaping the2018 election results. Even in the face of various important developments, radical changes in the geographic voting patterns do not appear to have taken place. Te incumbent AK Party and its leader, President Erdoğan, continued to have an electoral edge over competitors in regions that mostly overlap with those observed in earlier elections.

A key issue on the Turkish political agenda concerns a transition to presidentialism, with a constitutional amendment proposal submitted in December 2016. While the positions of political elites are well known, we lack a detailed analysis of the electorate’s views on such a transition. To fill this gap, we present cross-sectional and panel data collected over the period from spring 2015 to winter 2015–16. Partisanship emerges as the key factor shaping views on presidentialism, and reflections of the centre–periphery cleavage in Turkish politics are also visible. The shift of the Turkish nationalist constituency’s views in favour of presidentialism has been a significant trend in the aftermath of the June 2015 general election.

Tackling redistributive expansion in developing countries, this paper explores broader political consequences of social assistance programmes. Drawing from the Turkish case, where social welfare expanded since the 2000s, it examines attitudes of social assistance beneficiaries towards transition to presidentialism, which was approved in a referendum in 2017, and took effect in 2018. Using the results of an original survey, it indicates that social assistance benefits played a significant role in increasing support for presidentialism, by garnering votes from opposition voters, especially those with high-risk perceptions, in return for benefits. Given the character of Turkish presidentialism, devoid of vital checks and balances, the findings reveal that incumbents can mobilise support by using redistributive instruments in the context of democratic backsliding.

This paper charts the nature of political cleavage between major parties in post-Arab Spring elections in five Mediterranean region countries, with data from online opt-in surveys. We compare the Moroccan elections, held under a consolidated authoritarian regime, with the transitional cases of Tunisia and Egypt as well as the more mature democracies of Turkey and Israel. Voter opinions are obtained on 30 salient issues, and parties and voters are aligned along two dimensions. We trace country-specific cleavage patterns and reflections of party system maturity in these five countries. The cases of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco reveal that in less settled cleavage structures there is little congruence between vote propensities for parties and agreement levels with policy positions compared to the more institutionalized democracies of Israel and Turkey where voters exhibit a higher likelihood to vote for a party as the distance between the voter and the party in the policy space gets smaller.