Representation and Responsiveness in a Weakly Institutionalized Party System: The Case of Turkey



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How does weak party institutionalization and clientelistic linkage mechanisms affect policy responsiveness? Research on representation and responsiveness usually find a positive relationship between public priorities and subsequent policy making activities. However, most research on this topic assumes the context of strongly institutionalized party systems and presupposes that programmatic voter-party relations are prevalent. In weakly institutionalized party systems, on the other hand, clientelistic linkage mechanisms are the norm. Previous studies have suggested that clientelistic linkage mechanisms decrease policy responsiveness since non-policy, selective benefits are substituted for the collective, policy-based benefits. To investigate the dynamics of representation in a weakly institutionalized party system, this dissertation departs from the current literature, and focusses on Turkey; a country with a weakly institutionalized party system and clientelistic parties. This dissertation uses a novel dataset created by collecting and content coding over 13000 parliamentary documents (laws, parliamentary bills and oral questions) and over 10000 manifesto sentences as well as the most important problem question of public opinion surveys for a period of 11 years. My dissertation will show that parties largely relying on clientelistic linkage mechanisms are indeed responsive to the priorities of the median voter. The results also indicate that the policymaking agenda is jointly structured by public priorities and party preferences. In this regard, I also offer a new approach to measure party priorities which is theoretically more relevant.



Policy Responsiveness, Clientelism, Party Competition, Turkey