The in­sti­tu­tions, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion of Tur­key


The eco­nomic per­spec­tive on the history of de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion is largely based on ex­plor­ing the bar­gain­ing pro­cesses of the elite and other cit­i­zens on the ba­sis of their eco­nomic power and in­ter­ests. This is­sue Mi­cro­scope an­a­lyzes this ‘eco­nom­ics-based’ con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion and dis­cusses the im­pli­ca­tions in the Turk­ish case, ac­knowl­edg­ing the fact that in­di­vid­ual eco­nomic in­cen­tives are highly in­flu­en­tial in de­ter­min­ing in­di­vid­ual po­lit­i­cal at­ti­tudes Of key im­por­tance in this “eco­nom­ics-based” con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion are in­sti­tu­tional per­for­mance, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion. Ac­cord­ingly, Mi­cro­scope fo­cuses on po­lit­i­cal eco­nomic datasets such as the Hu­man De­vel­op­ment In­dex (HDI), the Polity IV Pro­ject and Turk­ish Sta­tis­tics In­sti­tute (TurkS­tat) fig­ures are used to in­fer rel­e­vant con­clu­sions about those con­cepts.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween eco­nomic well­be­ing and democ­racy has been ex­am­ined on the ba­sis of the strength of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic in­sti­tu­tions by the thinkers of in­sti­tu­tional eco­nom­ics. The fore­fa­thers of this par­tic­u­lar branch of eco­nom­ics pro­posed four fun­da­men­tal com­po­nents of a po­lit­i­cal model that in­duces a healthy en­vi­ron­ment for eco­nomic in­sti­tu­tions:

• An in­sti­tu­tional ma­trix with a set of or­ga­ni­za­tions and cer­tain rights and priv­i­leges

• A sta­ble struc­ture of ex­change re­la­tion­ships for po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic mar­kets

• A con­sis­tent struc­ture that com­mits the state to pro­duc­ing po­lit­i­cal rules in fa­vor of pro­tect­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions and ex­change re­la­tion­ships

• Con­form­ity, with some mix­ture of norm in­ter­nal­iza­tion and co­er­cive en­force­ment

Ac­cord­ing to this strand of eco­nomic thought, the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of a par­tic­u­lar na­tion and/or state is highly con­tin­gent upon a sta­ble set of po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions that pro­vide re­li­able pro­ce­dures for eco­nomic in­sti­tu­tions to emerge and spread. Hence, a more lib­eral en­vi­ron­ment in pol­i­tics is con­sid­ered the en­gine of eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment as a con­se­quence of in­cen­tivized in­di­vid­u­als in the eco­nomic mar­ket.

In a sim­i­lar vein, many po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic thinkers dis­cuss the fac­tors that in­flu­ence demo­cratic sys­tems and check those ideas with em­pir­i­cal re­search con­ducted at the in­ter­na­tional level. For some of them, pros­per­ity stim­u­lates democ­racy thanks to ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment and an ex­panded mid­dle class, as well as pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions’ abil­ity to limit the power of cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ments. To a dif­fer­ent group of re­searchers, good gov­ern­ment is mo­ti­vated by peo­ple’s in­cli­na­tion to­ward civic ac­tiv­ity along­side the ad­vance­ment of a cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem, un­der which the power of land­lords is weak­ened while the power of the work­ing and mid­dle classes is height­ened.

In their book “Why Na­tions Fail,” Daron Ace­moglu and James Robin­son en­rich the re­cent literature on the eco­nomic dy­nam­ics of demo­cratic sys­tems, fo­cus­ing

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