RAPID: A Panel Study of Presidentialism and, Democratic Collapse and the Rise of a One-Party State: Turkey at the Crossroads

Project: Research project

Project Details


General Summary

This study assesses core questions about the role of political parties and political party members in the constitutional change of a parliamentary government system to a presidential governmental system in the aftermath of two strategic elections. The PI proposes to re-survey parliamentary candidates in the aftermath of parliamentary elections in which the majority party could not achieve a coalition to form a government. The new elections created a unique opportunity to assess and reassess the incentives that influence individual party members to support or oppose a transformation from a parliamentary system to a presidential system. Existing theories hypothesize that elite preference for presidential systems stems from the political insecurity of ruling party elites and, ideological and policy radicalization among all political elites. The PI examines how the characteristics of political parties influence how political-party elites account for the preferences of their party, their voters and special interest groups in reaching their decisions. Using Turkey as the case of interest, the PI re-interviews 300 MP candidates to create a novel panel dataset.

Technical Summary

In this project, the PI collects elite-level survey data that allow her to test existing and new theories about strategic decision making concerning constitutional and regime change. Extant research in the literatures on political institutions and democratic collapse identify the insecurity of ruling party elites regarding their grip on political powers, ideological and policy radicalization among elites and structural factors such as poverty and ethnic polarization as key determinants influencing elites to choose a presidential over parliamentary system and, to support a transition to a non-democratic regime. However, recent empirical trends towards legislating constitutional changes to facilitate transitions to presidentialism and to non-democratic regimes suggest that existing explanations under-theorize the role of political parties in these phenomena. Compiling a novel elite panel dataset, the PI collects otherwise unavailable elite-level data through a re-survey of parliamentary candidates in Turkey. Through this elite-survey project the PI seeks to understand the incentive structure for both majority-party and opposition-party MP candidates in the parliamentary/presidential transition question. This research addresses literature on parliamentarism versus presidentialism, extension of presidential term of office, and creeping authoritarianism.

Effective start/end date12/15/1511/30/17


  • National Science Foundation: $56,758.00


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