Persistence in regional voting patterns in Turkey during a period of major political realignment
Akarca, Ali T.
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Using province level data from five nationwide elections held during the past decade, we examine the main voting patterns in Turkey. By means of cluster analysis, we classify the 81 provinces according to vote shares of the major parties and independent candidates, and repeat this exercise for each election held between 1999 and 2009. We find that 3-way and 5-way partitions of the country adequately capture the main political cleavages in Turkey. While the conservative rightwing parties receive a plurality of votes in all regions of the 3-way partition, they receive significant challenge from left-wing and Turkish-nationalist parties in the west and the Kurdishnationalist parties in the east. In addition to these patterns, the 5-way partition brings out also shifts in the relative strength of the parties within each main division. Our results also show that, despite the major political realignment which occurred during the period under examination, the groupings of provinces remain mainly unchanged. Therefore, we construct “composite clusters” by classifying provinces in the group in which they appear the majority of the time. The distinct socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the composite clusters suggest that differences in social and economic structures lie at the root of differing regional political tendencies and their persistence.