Change in political party strategy and organization in Turkey: the Republican People's Party in government and in opposition

Kılıçdaroğlu K.

SOUTHEAST EUROPEAN AND BLACK SEA STUDIES, vol.20, no.4, pp.593-615, 2020 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14683857.2020.1833619
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Historical Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts, Index Islamicus, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.593-615
  • Keywords: Clientelism, Turkish politics, political party organization, Republican People's Party (CHP), political party strategy, PERSONAL VOTE, CLIENTELISM, PATRONAGE, CITIZENSHIP, ARGENTINA, LINKAGES, LESSONS, SYSTEMS
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Political parties rely heavily on clientelistic networks in Turkey. However, parties may change and pursue alternative strategies while appealing to voters. The goal of this study is to explain why political parties change their strategies from clientelistic to programmatic or vice versa. Therefore, the key question is: under what conditions do parties adopt a clientelistic strategy or a programmatic strategy? Based on field research in Istanbul, Turkey, concerning party-voter linkages, I argue that parties' access to state resources affects the changes in party strategy. When a party is involved in a governing coalition, the party is more likely to pursue a clientelistic strategy; conversely, when a party becomes the opposition, it is more likely to pursue a programmatic strategy. In order to support my arguments, this research observes government (1991-1995) and opposition (2002-2015) periods of the Republican People's Party (CHP, Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi). In this context, the CHP's electoral strategy and local organizations are observed in the more developed Kadikoy and less developed Esenler districts in Istanbul.