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

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