Skip to main content
×
×
Home

When elites polarize over polarization: Framing the polarization debate in Turkey

  • Senem Aydın-Düzgit (a1) and Evren Balta (a2)
Abstract

This article aims to explore the views of the Turkish elite on the state of polarization in Turkey. By identifying four political frames—namely, harmony, continuity/decline, conspiracy, and conflict—that selected Turkish political and civil society elites use in discussing the phenomenon of polarization in the country through their contributions to a workshop and in-depth qualitative interviews, the article finds that there is a considerable degree of polarization among the Turkish elite regarding their views on the presence of polarization in Turkey. Moreover, this overlaps with the divide between the government and the opposition in the country. An analysis of the justificatory arguments employed in constituting the aforementioned frames shows that, while those elites who deny the existence of polarization seek its absence in essentialist characteristics of society, in reductionist comparisons with history, or in internal/external enemies, those who acknowledge polarization’s presence look for its roots in political and institutional factors and processes. The article highlights how, given the denial of polarization by the pro-government elite and the substantial gap between the two camps’ justificatory narratives, the currently reported high rates of polarization in Turkey can, at best, be expected to remain as is in the near future, barring a radical change in political constellations.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All

Authors’ Note: This study was made possible by the Post-Coup Opportunities on Conflict Resolution and Democracy Project conducted by the Resolution and Mediation Stream of Istanbul Policy Center. The authors would like to thank Pınar Akpınar for project coordination and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the earlier versions of this article.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Abramowitz, Alan I. and Saunders, Kyle L.Is Polarization a Myth?The Journal of Politics 70, no. 2 (2008): 542555.
Adams, James, Green, Jane and Milazzo, Caitlin. “Has the British Public Depolarized Along with Political Elites? An American Perspective on British Public Opinion.” Comparative Political Studies 45, no. 4 (2012): 507530.
Atikcan, E. Özlem and Öge, Kerem. “Referendum Campaigns in Polarized Societies: The Case of Turkey.” Turkish Studies 13, no. 3 (2012): 449470.
Aydın-Düzgit, Senem. “No Crisis, No Change: The Third AKP Victory in the June 2011 Elections in Turkey.” South European Society and Politics 17, no. 2 (2012): 329346.
Baldassari, Delia and Bearman, Peter. “Dynamics of Political Polarization.” American Sociological Review 72, no. 5 (2007): 784811.
Bock, Kathryn and Loebell, Helga. “Framing Sentences.” Cognition 35, no. 1 (1990): 139.
Çelik, Ayşe Betül, Rezarta, Bilali and Ikbal, Yeshim. “Patterns of ‘Othering’ in Turkey: A Study of Ethnic, Ideological and Sectarian Polarisation.” South European Society and Politics 22, no. 2 (2017): 217238.
Chong, Dennis and Druckman, James N.Framing Theory.” Annual Review of Political Science 10 (2007): 103126.
De la Torre, Carlos and Lemos, Andres Ortiz. “Populist Polarization and the Slow Death of Democracy in Ecuador.” Democratization 23, no. 2 (2016): 221241.
Dinçşahin, Şakir. “A Symptomatic Analysis of the Justice and Development Party’s Populism in Turkey: The 2007 Electoral Crisis and After.” Government and Opposition 47, no. 4 (2012): 618640.
Druckman, James N.The Implications of Framing Effects for Citizen Competence.” Political Behavior 23, no. 3 (2001): 225256.
Duchesne, Sarah, Frazer, Elizabeth, Haegel, Florence and Ingelgom, Virginie Van. Citizens’ Reactions to European Integration Compared: Overlooking Europe. London: Palgrave, 2013.
Enyedi, Zsolt. “Populist Polarization and Party System Institutionalization: The Role of Party Politics in De-Democratization.” Problems of Post-Communism 63, no. 4 (2016): 210220.
Erdoğan, Emre. “Türkiye’de Kutuplaşmanın Boyutları Araştırması.” February 1, 2016. https://www.fichier-pdf.fr/2016/02/19/kutuplasma-arast-rmas-sonuclar/preview/page/1/.
Erdoğan, Emre. “Turkey: Divided We Stand.” GMF: The German Marshall Fund of the United States. April 12, 2016. http://www.gmfus.org/publications/turkey-divided-we-stand.
Erdoğan, Emre. “Dimensions of Polarization in Turkey.” GMF: The German Marshall Fund of the United States. February 20, 2018. http://www.gmfus.org/publications/dimensions-polarization-turkey.
Erdoğan, Emre and Uyan-Semerci, Pınar. Türkiye’de Kutuplaşmanın Boyutları Araştırması. İstanbul Bilgi University and BST: The Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation. https://goc.bilgi.edu.tr/media/uploads/2018/02/05/bilgi-goc-merkezi-kutuplasmanin-boyutlari-2017-sunum.pdf.
Esen, Berk and Gümüşçü, Şebnem. “A Small Yes for Presidentialism: The Turkish Constitutional Referendum of April 2017.” South European Society and Politics 22, no. 3 (2017): 303326.
Fiorina, Morris P., Abrams, Samuel J. and Pope, Jeremy C.. Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006.
Freedom House. “Turkey Profile.” Freedom in the World 2018. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2018/turkey.
Freedom House. “Turkey Profile.” Freedom of the Press 2017. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/turkey.
Guida, Michelangelo. “The Sèvres Syndrome and ‘Komplo’ Theories in the Islamist and Secular Press.” Turkish Studies 9, no. 1 (2008): 3752.
Halkier, Bente. “Focus Groups as Social Enactments: Integrating Interaction and Content in the Analysis of Focus Group Data.” Qualitative Research 10, no. 1 (2010): 7189.
Hetherington, Marc J.Resurgent Mass Partisanship: The Role of Elite Polarization.” American Political Science Review 95 (2001): 619631.
Iyengar, Shanto, Sood, Gaurav and Lelkes, Yphtach. “Affect Not Ideology: A Social Identity Based Perspective on Polarisation.” Public Opinion Quarterly 76, no. 3 (2012): 405431.
Kalaycıoğlu, Ersin. “Kulturkampf in Turkey: The Constitutional Referendum of 12 September 2010.” South European Society and Politics 17, no. 1 (2012): 122.
Kemahlıoğlu, Özge. “Winds of Change? The June 2015 Parliamentary Election in Turkey.” South European Society and Politics 20, no. 4 (2015): 445464.
Keyman, Fuat. “The AK Party: Dominant Party, New Turkey and Polarization.” Insight Turkey 16, no. 2 (2014): 1931.
LeBas, Adrienne. “Polarization as Craft: Explaining Party Formation and State Violence in Zimbabwe.” Comparative Politics 38, no. 4 (2006): 419438.
McLeod, Douglas M. and Shah, Dhavan V.. News Frames and National Security: Covering Big Brother. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
McCoy, Jennifer, Rahman, Tahmina and Somer, Murat. “Polarization and the Global Crisis of Democracy: Common Patterns, Dynamics and Pernicious Consequences for Democratic Politics.” American Behavioral Scientist 62, no. 1 (2018): 1642.
Nefes, Salim Türkay. “The Impact of the Turkish Government’s Conspiratorial Framing of the Gezi Park Protests.” Social Movement Studies 16, no. 5 (2017): 610622.
Oosterwaal, Annemarije and Torenvleid, Rene. “Politics Divided from Society? Three Explanations for Trends in Social and Political Polarisation in the Netherlands.” West European Politics 33, no. 2 (2010): 258279.
Özbudun, Ergun. “AKP at the Crossroads: Erdoğan’s Majoritarian Drift.” South European Society and Politics 19, no. 2 (2014): 155167.
Özdemir, Özge. “Muhafazakar Kesim Kutuplaşmaya Nasıl Bakıyor?” BBC News: Türkçe. January 27, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-38667730.
Palonen, Emilia. “Political Polarisation and Populism in Contemporary Hungary.” Parliamentary Affairs 62, no. 2 (2009): 318334.
Parent, Genevieve. “Genocide Denial: Perpetuating Victimisation and the Cycle of Violence in Bosnia Herzegovina.” Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal 10, no. 2 (2016): 3858.
Patterson, Thomas E. The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty. New York: Vintage Books, 2009.
Piven, Francis F. and Cloward, Richard A.. Why Americans Still Don’t Vote — And Why Politicians Want It That Way. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.
Przeworski, Adam and Sprague, John. Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.
Reisigl, Martin. “Analysing Political Rhetoric.” In Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences . Edited by Ruth Wodak, and Michal Krzyzanowski. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008: 96119.
Sayarı, Sabri. “Back to a Predominant Party System: November 2015 Snap Election in Turkey.” South European Society and Politics 21, no. 2 (2016): 263280.
Schattschneider, Elmer Eric. Party Government. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2004.
Schattschneider, Elmer Eric. The Semisovereign People. Hindsdale, IL: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960.
Somer, Murat and McCoy, Jennifer. “Déjà Vu? Polarisation and Endangered Democracies in the 21st Century.” American Behavioral Scientist 62, no. 1 (2018): 315.
Soroka, Stuart. “Agenda-Setting and Issue Definition.” In Critical Policy Studies. Edited by M. Orsini and M. Smith. Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, 2011. 185210.
Stanley, Liam. “Using Focus Groups in Political Science and International Relations.” Politics 36, no. 3 (2016): 236249.
Statham, Paul and Trenz, Hans-Jörg. The Politicization of Europe: Contesting the Constitution in the Mass Media. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2013.
Thompson, Joseph L.P.Denial, Polarisation and Massacre: A Comparative Analysis of Northern Ireland and Zanzibar.” The Economic and Social Review 17, no. 4 (1986): 293314.
Torcal, Mariano and Mainwaring, Scott. “The Political Recrafting of Social Bases of Party Competition: Chile, 1973–95.” British Journal of Political Science 33, no. 1 (2003): 5584.
White, Jenny. Müslüman Milliyetçiliği ve Yeni Türkler. Translated by Fuat Güllüpınar and Coşkun Taştan. İstanbul: İletişim, 2013.
White, Jonathan and Ypi, Lea. “On Partisan Political Justification.” American Political Science Review 105, no. 2 (2011): 381396.
World Bank. “Worldwide Governance Indicators.” http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/#home.
Yinanç, Barçın. “Turkish Media’s Partisan Coverage Alarming for Democracy.” Hürriyet Daily News. April 20, 2015. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-medias-partisan-coverage-alarming-for-democracy-81271.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

New Perspectives on Turkey
  • ISSN: 0896-6346
  • EISSN: 1305-3299
  • URL: /core/journals/new-perspectives-on-turkey
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed