Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 20, Issue 5

Mehmet Kabasakal, "Factors influencing intra-party democracy and membership rights: The case of Turkey," Party Politics, 20 (September, 2014), 700-711 [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue5/ ]

First paragraph:
Political parties are considered to be vital elements of political life in modern democracies. They have instrumental and representative functions, play several key roles, including: integrating diverse interests; serving as a bridge between the public and the government; creating public awareness and training people about the political process and public issues; serving as a milieu for the emergence and election of political candidates; monitoring the government when they are in opposition; and forming governments and issuing policies and laws as the ruling party. While they are the building-blocks of modern democracies, whether political parties maintain democratic mechanisms within their own organization has been an intriguing issue and involves the question: What are the main factors that influence intra-party democracy?

Table 1. Continuities and changes in party names and leaders in Turkey (1945-present).
Table 2A. Perception of leader dominance in political parties.
Table 2B. Leader dominance in Turkey.
Table 3. Local party leaders' preferences on candidate selection mechanisms.
Table 4. Local leaders' perceptions of intra-party democracy.

Last Paragraph:
(First paragraph of Conclusion) Intra-party democracy can be conceptualized by inclusiveness in terms of candidacy and selectorate, decentralizion of decision-making and establishment of checks-and-balance mechanisms within a political party. The three factors commonly used to explain intra-party democracy include: the leader's power and control, the nomination process and determining policy preferences. The analysis in this study contributes to the comparative literature by showing that these factors, which are identified in the study of old Western democracies, play a significant role in determining the level of intra-party democracy in Turkey, a country that has had a different political culture and trajectory from those of Western countries. Moreover, the article draws attention to party membership and identifies the process of membership recruitment and members' rights as another factor that influences intra-party democracy. The three factors commonly related to intra-party democracy would be meaningful only when the process of membership recruitment is open and transparent and when members' rights are secured by the country's laws and party by-laws. People's ability to join a party as members and the proper functioning of the election rules within the party are important for both intra-party democracy and the political culture of the country. Thus, membership should be given adequate attention, by scholars and democrats alike, in both established and new democracies.

Last updated November 2014