Can corrective parties save Turkish democracy? Toward a new conceptualization, By Akın Ünver
Talking TR is a monthly series of talks and discussions from leading analysts and academics on key issues for Turkey and the region, filmed in front of a live audience. This essay is a modified transcript of the talk presented by Asst. Prof. Akın Ünver of Kadir Has University at Talking TR in July. Ünver discusses Turkish democracy, how it should be conceptualized and how people are connected to politics through democracy I recently completed a book on the Turkish-Kurdish question looking specifically at the 1990s, which gave me the opportunity to examine the way political parties interact and bargain during periods of crisis. As you may recall, the 1990s in Turkey were marked by a rise in violence, the Kurdish insurgency and a lot of civilian and material losses. This made me curious about what do we do in a democracy that is suffering from a security crisis, as Turkey’s was in the 1990s. The book allowed me to develop a new kind of conceptualization, one that I’m working on right now; I would like to introduce two concepts I’m looking at in terms of Turkish democracy in a comparative context.
One is the concept of the “corrective” party. The second is the concept of the “conveyor coalition” party. Practically, the “conveyor coalition” and “corrective” party conceptualizations are variants of the “third party” theory in political science. This dynamic refers to the party that frequently emerges from a general election as the third-largest party and sustains an almost chronic third-party status in a political system. A “corrective” party has a rigid ideology and “corrects” disagreements between first and second parties from an ideological standpoint. Whenever either the first or second party needs to form a coalition to pass legislation or acquire majority for any parliamentary decision, they have to do this within the framework of how it relates to the ideology of the corrective party. A “conveyor coalition” party, on the other hand, is characterized by a less rigid ideology, and usually achieves third-party status for the first time. It has a fluid ideology and it extracts its power from connecting and uniting disenfranchised segments of the political system, rather than pursuing a singular, rigid ideology.
To recap: A “corrective” party is rigid and ideological while a “conveyor coalition” party is more fluid and transient. The latter does not have an ideology; its power comes from its ability to bring together people who are unhappy with the political establishment. In the UK, for example, the main political polarity is between the Conservatives and Labour. And in that context, the Liberal Party or Liberal Democrat Party has long acted as the third party in British politics, even though in recent elections the Scottish National Party (SNP) has emerged to replace it. In Germany, the Free