Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Political Parties, the Political System and Turkey

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Political Parties, the Political System and Turkey

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT Even though they are not the sole forms of organization in a democratic system, political parties constitute the most effective bodies of people's will. A large volume of empirical research has been conducted for a concrete clarification of the cyclical relationship between the types of election system, political party system and political system. This paper aims to examine this relationship by focusing on different states, with a special focus on Turkey. It is argued that the more democratic a political system is, the more democratically political parties will have to function, and that the higher the eagerness of political parties to function democratic

General Theoretical Outlook

Even though they are not the sole forms of organization in a democratic system, as the late French jurist Georges Bourdeau put long ago, political parties constitute the most effective bodies of people's will. With these features, political parties prioritize the institutions envisioned by the Constitution; and modern democracies without political parties are unthinkable. In this respect, political parties both sustain democracy and owe their existence to democratic systems. For this reason, democratic systems are obligated to provide both a legal and a political ground necessary for political parties to represent people. On the other hand, political parties should not harm this base to which they owe their existence and should not see it as an instrument only to meet the demands of their partisans.

Parties should have a democratic mindset and a democratic behaviour so that they equip the actual system with the requirements of democracy--the rule of law in particular--as a must for the existence of a strong democracy. In this context, political parties, first and foremost, unite people to accede government and while doing so, they must resort to statutory and legitimate means. Such a feature of political parties, at the same time, encourages competition, i.e. elections.

It is a rule of thumb for political parties to join elections although some of them refuse to participate in elections, believing that to do so will legitimize regimes (as in the example of the Communist Party of Ireland), or simply believing that elections are not rewarding for long-term objectives. Hence, in order to legitimize the political parties' which govern a country, elections are as equally indispensable for political mechanisms as political parties are for democracy. In fact, research on election systems have proven that which social, economic, political and cultural trends and demands dominate a society and require political representation, and which political leaders and administrators should be entrusted to put them into practice can be determined only by means of an election system. This is to the extent that, as some of the leading international institutions and research initiatives (e.g., Freedom House, POLITY IV) predicate the existence of political parties on the democratization level of a country's political system, they also consider whether or not the competition among political parties is fair, just and periodic.

Accordingly, for many political scientists, the relationship between political parties and an election system has been a key area of research in order to understand the type of democratic regime and the nature of political change in a country. All the research in this area commonly refers to the existence of a cyclical relationship between the political party system and the type of political system. Namely, the type of an election system (say, proportional representation) may determine the type of the political party system (multi-party system) which in turn may determine the type of political system in a country. However, the opposite may also be the case: the survival of a certain type of political system may require a certain type of political party system, and that may be achieved by a certain type of an election system. …

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