Turkey – from tutelary to delegative democracy

Hakkı Taş (2015) ‘Turkey – from tutelary to delegative democracy,’ Third World Quarterly, 36:4, 776-791. Full Text

Abstract: Guillermo O’Donnell’s influential work ‘Delegative Democracy’ set the discourse on a peculiar type of democracy. Lying between representative democracy and authoritarianism, the uniqueness of delegative democracy lies in its features, including an absence of horizontal accountability, strong centralised rule, individual leadership with unchecked powers, a cult figure embodying the nation and clientelist practices. While delegative democracies seem to arise out of presidential systems, Turkey, though a parliamentary system, has also displayed the distinctive features of delegative democracies. This paper identifies three characteristics of delegative democracy, which are responsible for the lack of democratic consolidation, if not the erosion of democracy itself: anti-institutionalism, an anti-political agenda and clientelism. Arguing that delegative democracy is the best concept with which to examine contemporary Turkey, the paper lays out how, post-2011, Turkey has demonstrated the three elements of delegative democracy. The final section discusses the implications of the Turkish case for scrutinising the very possibility of delegative democracy in parliamentary regimes.

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