Electoral success of the Justice and Development Party: the role of political appeal and organization

Baykan, Toygar Sinan (2016) Electoral success of the Justice and Development Party: the role of political appeal and organization. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The Justice and Development Party (JDP – Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) in Turkey was founded by a reformist spin-off from the Islamist National View (Milli Görüş) tradition in 2001 and came to power in 2002. Between 2002 and 2014, the JDP and its leader Erdoğan remained in power by receiving 35–50% of all votes in several elections despite many social, economic and political crises. The literature on the “normalization” of Islamist politics and the JDP’s unprecedented electoral resilience in Turkey overwhelmingly focused on the economic and social-structural reasons. This dissertation aims to complement existing explanations by focusing on the role of party agency: the political appeal and organization of the JDP. The research relied on in-depth interviews with around 50 participants, the overwhelming majority of which came from various hierarchical levels and branches of the JDP across Turkey. It is argued that the party’s “low-populist” political appeal/style consolidated the JDP’s connection with the low-income, peripheral and provincial majority of the country. The JDP leadership also encapsulated divergent segments within the party organization and within its electoral base (the pluralization caused by Islamist party normalization) through a tightly controlled, year-round active, large and pervasive membership organization. The personalistic leadership of the party supported this massive membership organization with political marketing techniques. As a result, the JDP became a “personalistic membership party”, which blended mass and elite-based party models. Thus, the dissertation highlights the combination of a “low-populist” appeal with a “personalistic membership party” as a convenient mode of agency for electorally succesful Islamist party normalization. Another implication of the research is that despite the rise of elite-based party models and capital intensive campaign techniques, particularly in the developing world which is characterized by uneven socio-economic development, various traits of the mass party model are still indispensable for electoral success and political resilience.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.) > JQ0021 Asia > JQ1758 Middle East Including Turkey, Iran, Israel, Arabian Peninsula
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2017 09:39
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2021 07:32
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/65895

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