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Electoral Volatility in Turkey - Cleavages vs. the Economy  

Occasional Papers Series


Occasional Papers Series Electoral Volatility in Turkey - Cleavages vs. the Economy ■ Electoral Volatility in Turkey - Cleavages vs. the Economy
HAZAMA Yasushi
■ 3,348Yen (Price without consumption tax:3,100 Yen)
■ Published in 2007

Among the developing countries, Turkey stands out for its half-century history of multiparty democracy despite two brief military interventions. Its party system, however, has displayed growing electoral volatility, especially since the 1980s. This study seeks to answer the following puzzle: why is electoral volatility persistently high and even increasing, after five decades of multiparty politics?
Two types of volatilities—cleavage-type volatilities based on social cleavages and retrospective-type volatilities based on voter punishment of the incumbent—are analyzed using separate regression models. The results demonstrate, first, that deep social cleavages once increased electoral volatility but that since the 1990s, they have begun to stabilize voting behavior. Second, electoral volatility as a whole nonetheless remains high because of a growing trend toward retrospective voting. Low economic growth and high unemployment are the major reasons for this.
The apparent instability in the party system stems not from a lack of representation in parliament of major social groups but rather from poor government performance. Persistently high electoral volatility thus does not necessarily indicate an absence of party system institutionalization. This current phenomenon in Turkey appears to be analogous with the world trend toward declining trust in government and growing trust in democratic and party systems.