Containing the opposition : selective representation in Jordan and Turkey
Author(s)Wakeman, Raffaela Lisette
Translating the vote : election mechanisms in Jordan and Turkey
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
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How does elite manipulation of election mechanisms affect the representation of political regime opponents? While the spread of elections has reached all the continents, the number of actual democracies has not increased at a comparable rate. If anything, observers have learned that the presence of elections in a country does not necessarily mean that it is also a democracy. This thesis addresses an underexplored topic in the study of electoral politics: the manipulation of election systems in order to achieve selective representation. I focus on the experience of opposition parties in two cases, Jordan and Turkey, an autocracy and a democracy, to analyze the impact of engineered election mechanisms on their representation. I contend that parties in power exploit the rules of the electoral game to contain their opposition. This is done by different mechanisms, depending on the makeup of the country and the options available to the manipulators. Mechanisms of electoral systems are used to reduce the representation of groups that are considered a threat, and to amplify the representation of those groups that the regime would like to strengthen. Analyzing the effect of malapportioned seats and the use of a single non-transferable voting system in Jordan on the Islamic Action Front Party (IAF), the main political rival to traditional tribal politicians, I expose the power of these targeted electoral mechanisms for control. Examining how the 10% national election threshold in Turkey affects representation of the Islamist political parties in the Grand National Assembly uncovers the distorting effect of this universal mechanism on representation.(cont.) I analyze the election results for the 1993, 1997, and 2003 parliamentary elections in Jordan, measuring malapportionment and the variation in turnout. While the motivations for the Hashemite regime are to maintain stability and power in their country, I show that there are unintended consequences for this manipulation through an analysis of turnout and a policy study of honor crimes, the cause of the majority of Jordanian women's deaths every year. I examine Turkey's elections since 1961, calculating the difference between vote share and seat share, which uncovers an increase in the disparity between votes and seats since the installation of the election threshold. I conduct a counterfactual analysis, using a set of districts and reallocating the seats in each district using a 5% national election threshold instead of the current 10% threshold. Even by lowering the threshold this much, there is a much more equal representation of votes in the parliament. Electoral systems are engineered to suit the country in question. While the characteristics of states and election mechanisms used in each country are without a doubt different and specific to each case, the concept of representation is universal to all systems. In both Jordan and Turkey, the end goal of containing the opposition has not necessarily been reached: the Hashemite regime and its tribal loyalists don't see eye to eye on all issues, while in Turkey the AKP, a conservative Islamist political party, has overcome the obstacles to become the beneficiary of the threshold.
Thesis (S.M. and S.B.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2009.Includes bibliographical references (p. 166-173).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology