This project seeks to explain how political stability in the developing world in the age of global capitalism is achieved. Recent Turkish political history provides a unique case to test and extend theories on this issue. Between 1989 and 2002, Turkey witnessed 11 consecutive governments. This tumultuous period ended only when the economic crises of 2000/2001 altered power relations, resulting in unpopular reforms that led to the election of the Justice and Development Party. The JDP has maintained its political hegemony since then, winning consecutive landslide victories over the last 13 years. Why were the short-lived governments of Turkey's lost decade of the 1990s unable to prevent the breakup of their respective regimes? How was it possible for the current JDP to maintain its rule since 2002? This research hypothesizes that: (1) The dynamics between the banking sector and the public debt regime systematically generated conflicts among the ruling elite, inhibiting political parties from forming viable coalitions during the 1990s, and that (2) the successful resolutions of these conflicts after the 2001 economic crisis account for the JDP's ability to bring about stability. With a focus on finance and state-capital relations, I seek to explore an overlooked, but potentially significant, factor shaping political arrangements.

This project employs a qualitative research methodology, based on a detailed within-case comparative historical-sociological analysis. The project uses two research strategies that are widely used by sociologists: an extensive historical investigation of archived materials produced by selected state institutions and private organizations, and semi-structured in-depth interviews with political and economic elites in Turkey. Combining these two primary sources, I aim not only to understand micro-level dynamics of political stability by scrutinizing incentives behind how elites reach (or fail to reach) consensus under given economic constraints and political pressures, but also to discover larger structural and institutional forces underlying political decision-making processes at the state level. Therefore, this research will produce reproducible, generalizable and falsifiable results since the findings and claims can be tested against ?matching? (positive or negative) historically situated and/or counter-factual cases. The project's analysis of how finance shapes electoral politics and governing institutions can potentially offer generalizable policy suggestions concerning developmental issues and democratic governance practices.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Marie Cornwall
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New York University
New York
United States
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